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What to know: Based on myths of Hawaiian culture, and a young girl who learns about her heritage and the importance of ohana (family) and the land.
Recommended age 10-18
83 minutes
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FINDING Click to play video trailer
The upcoming Netflix film Finding 'Ohana, by Jude Weng, is absorbing, hilarious and intriguing. I truly enjoyed watching the main character Pili (Kea Peahu) evolve throughout the film as she learns more about her heritage and the land. As a young viewer, I found it fascinating that this film points out one of many Hawaiian legends - the Night Marchers - which are the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors.

This film follows two Brooklyn-raised siblings, as their life takes an unexpected turn as they spend the summer in O'ahu. At the beginning of their O'ahu summer, Pili finds an old, dusty journal with notes from an old pirate and the pirate's crew. After learning more about the pirate's connection to the long-lost gold from her grandfather Kimo (Branscombe Richmond), Pili takes on the challenge of finding the gold with her new friend Casper (Owen Vaccaro), which leads to her older brother Ioane (Alex Iono) and Casper's "older sister" Hana (Lindsay Watson) following the journey.

I was super impressed by all of the acting talent, especially Kea Peahu, who plays the protagonist Pili. Considering that this is her first feature film, that is even more impressive. I spoke with her recently about that and she shared, "I have many similarities to Pili, which helped improve my performance. I was able to connect with my ohana (family) just like Pili does in the film." Along with that, Owen Vaccaro (Daddy's Home; Daddy's Home 2) surpassed all my expectations with his performance.

My favorite parts about Finding 'Ohana are the real-world concepts such as the Hawaiian legends that lead Pili on her journey to find the treasure. Many films are based around myths of various cultures. However, in this film, you see how the Hawaiian legend comes to life in a youth and family-friendly way. I loved seeing the character development of each character and seeing them change by the end of the film when they become family (ohana) because of the experiences they have shared.

This film promotes positive social behaviors and shows how important it is to treat others respectfully. What I took away from this film is to always treat others the way you want to be treated, and that ohana (family) is not always blood; family is those who love and support you, whether you are related or not.

I give Finding 'Ohana 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It debuts on Netflix Jan. 29, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Families do not always bond nicely. In Finding 'Ohana, two siblings from New York embark on an adventure in O'ahu, Hawaii and try to connect with each other and with their Hawaiian heritage while they discover the mysteries of the island. This movie is about traditions, embracing your culture and respect.

The film has the perfect adventure spirit. Pili (Kea Peahu), a 12-year-old girl and her brother Ione (Alex Aiono) are always fighting. With their mom, they go to their native island, O'ahu, to visit their grandfather whose health is delicate. The mom, Leilani (Kelly Hu), doesn't get along with her family all that well. It's as if all these different generations are colliding, but through the unusual experiences and with help from new friends, they discover the greatest treasure - the love of family (ohana).

The movie mixes fantasy and adventure, a little romance, humor and drama in a fun way. This story remind of Goonies and has some elements from the classic 80s films like Indiana Jones, but deals with contemporary subjects of identity and multi-cultural issues. The scenes were filmed on various locations on O'ahu, which gives the film a very authentic tone. The sightseers are beautiful and there is some lovely underwater photography. The story is entertaining and keeps you focused most of the time. Some visual effects and practical sets are not all that impressive, but the performances are very good and make you connect with the characters and what they are going through. Kea Peahu, who plays Pili in her film debut, is amazing in the leading role. I love the songs in the soundtrack and the way the music is incorporated into the storyline. I also love that the film reinforces the importance of a simple life; sometimes we focus on our dreams and goals; we forget about the beauty that is in front of us in our everyday life.

The message of the film is that love of family is unconditional despite our differences.

I give Finding 'Ohana 4 out of 5 starts and recommended for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Finding 'Ohana premieres January 29, 2021 on Netflix.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

see youth comments
A summer in rural O'ahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends, and leads them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.
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