The Legend Of Johnny Lingo
When a tiny baby washes ashore after a tropical storm, the islanders believe he is a gift from the gods. The only problem is, they aren't sure which one: The God of Blessedness or the God of Mischief.
Concerned the orphan might usurp her son's birthright, the chief's wife employs her gossiping tongue until the superstitious locals are convinced Toma (Tausani Simei-Barton) is a curse. Blamed for everything from poor fishing conditions to a house fire, the unwanted lad is passed from home to home, eventually taking refuge in the hut of the town drunk.
Here he finds a soul mate in Mahana (Fokikovi Soakimi), the alcoholic's wild-haired daughter who is about his age and also feels responsible for circumstances beyond her control. But when the father's criticism and the villager's teasing become unbearable, Toma takes a small boat and flees. He promises to return for his friend if he is successful in finding a better life.
Washed ashore for the second time, Toma is taken in by a wealthy trader named Johnny Lingo (George Hanare). The older gentleman optimistically maintains there is "a treasure hidden deep within everyone," and he is prepared to embark on the adventure of discovering it within the runaway. His chief steward however is a little more cautious, prescribing work as the cure for what ails the distrustful boy. Between them, Toma finds a nurturing ground for his wounded self-esteem.
When he reaches adulthood, Toma (Joe Falou) sets out to fulfill the pledge he made to his childhood sweetheart eight years earlier. Returning to Malio under the pretence of seeking a bride from amongst the island's eligible maidens, the bachelor is surprised to discover his charm and prestige are not enough to buy Mahana's (Kayte Ferguson ) affections.
Self worth is definitely the overall theme most promoted within this tale. Although "generic" islanders are used in the production, this same story could be transferred to any culture--and we would be shortsighted to suggest Mahanas don't exist in our society today.
A product of New Zealand 0x2018s film industry, The Legend of Johnny Lingo suffers a little from awkward construction and some preachy sentimentality -- faults that may be overlooked in favor of its beautiful scenery and family friendly script. After all, this South Sea's Cinderella story believes in looking for those pearls that are sometimes obscured behind clammy exteriors.