Finding ‘Ohana Parent Guide
Hawaiian language, beliefs, and people are front and center here, not to mention gorgeous landscapes.
Parent Movie Review
I’m always up for a good treasure hunting story, especially a family friendly one. At its most basic, Finding ‘Ohana is essentially Indiana Jones for tweens but with less of a colonial subtext. There are caves, cryptic clues, peril, spiders, and even the potential for grave robbing. Where Finding ‘Ohana excels, however, is in everything surrounding the treasure hunt. Respectful Hawai’ian representation is hard to find in mass media, so I appreciate the care that was obviously put into this production. Hawai’ian language, beliefs, and people are front and center here, not to mention the gorgeous landscapes of the islands.
The shining aspect of this film is in its messaging. One of the running themes is about discovering one’s heritage and identity. Pili and Ioane have spent most of their lives in New York. Pili learns how to speak Spanish because she’s tired of being mistaken for Puerto Rican. Ioane goes by “E”, because he doesn’t want to have to explain how to pronounce his name to everyone. They are both unsure of their identities at first, being torn between New York and Hawai’i. As the story moves forward, they both learn to embrace their heritage and become comfortable in their ethnic identity. As part of that, they both learn to embrace ‘Ohana, the Hawai’ian concept of family, and grow closer together instead of squabbling. A surprising, but welcome, message is that respecting cultures and beliefs is more important that money. The ending of the story (I won’t spoil it!) made me tear up with its themes of family and love. I didn’t expect to be so moved, but I was.
I could gripe about a few things. The movie is a bit too long and could have used some editing. The first third or so moves really slow, but once it gets going, I stopped noticing the runtime. Some of the kid actors aren’t great, and the teen romance subplot is cringy. But honestly, these are minor complaints when looking at the film as a whole.
Overall, I recommend Finding ‘Ohana. It does lean on the scary side of the adventure genre and can be a little strong on the language front occasionally, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the very young. But older kids and tweens will enjoy the action and adults will appreciate the themes of family, identity, and respecting cultural beliefs. And if all that fails to impress you, at least you have gorgeous landscapes to look at.Directed by Jude Weng. Starring Kelly Hu, Ke Huy Quan, and Chris Parnell. Running time: 123 minutes. Theatrical release January 29, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
Watch the trailer for Finding ‘Ohana
Rating & Content Info
Why is Finding ‘Ohana rated PG? Finding ‘Ohana is rated PG by the MPAA for language, crude references, adventure action and some suggestive comments.
Violence: The film features standard treasure hunt adventure violence, including tunnels collapsing, lava pits, spiders, sword fights, and perilous situations. Many human skeletons are seen. A teen nearly drowns and requires CPR. Characters are chased by protective spirits called Night Marchers who are said to be murderous.
Sexual Content: A teen boy and girl flirt and eventually kiss.
Profanity: There are multiple uses of terms of deity. A couple mild expletives are heard along with insults such as butthead, bunghole, buttface. The word “balls” is used as an exclamation multiple times.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated October 2, 2021
Finding ‘Ohana Parents' Guide
What does this movie teach about Hawai’ian culture? Where could we go to learn more?
Why is it so important to Kimo that his grandchildren learn about their culture and language?
What does ‘Ohana mean? How could we better embrace ‘Ohana in our family?
Hawaii History: A Culture Unfolds
Related home video titles:
This film strongly resembles the Indiana Jones trilogy, with its swashbuckling archaeologist.
Another film that tries to bring adventure to a tween audience – but is less successful – is Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
The Pacific Islands take a starring role in Moana, the story of a girl who rediscovers her people’s seafaring roots along with the demigod Maui. Disney’s Lilo & Stitch is set in Hawaii and features a young girl who adopts a curious alien.