Written by 3 years ago Trends

Finding Ohana – Flipping the Treasure Hunt Formula on Its Head


It is obvious, Finding Ohana will be compared to the Goonies. You won’t even have to look hard to find the similarities between the two movies but what Christina Strain did with the script of Finding Ohana made this Netflix family movie into a better and particularly more emotional version of the mid-80s hit.

Saying Finding Ohana is a better movie is probably blasphemous for most people who grew up watching Goonies. But the Jude Weng directed movie focuses so much more outside of the hunt that it feels more of a prestige picture than a treasure hunt movie.

Yes, you can poke holes in the plot and the acting but the wholesome nature of Finding Ohana is so hard to find in movies nowadays. And the most amazing thing about the film is the fact that the treasure hunt is not even the main plot of the film.

Finding Ohana – A Breath of Fresh Air

finding-ohana-better-than-goonies-2021Finding Ohana is the new Netflix movie that is being compared to The Goonies. The movie is better than the 80s flick.
Image Source: Netflix

From the moment the first trailer of Finding Ohana was released on YouTube my attention was peaked. I am a die-hard Goonies fan and this looked so similar yet so different to me that I was looking forward to the release of the film at the end of January.

Every clip Netflix shared was interesting and when Oahu declared the movie’s release date as Finding Ohana day, the excitement reached a fever pitch. Watching the movie, I have to say, it did not disappoint me one bit.

There was some preconceived notion I took with me when I hit the play button. I was expecting a formulaic movie with children going on a treasure hunt to save their grandfather’s land. But from the get to the movie was setting me up for a massive twist.

Finding Ohana features siblings Pili and Ioane going to visit their grandfather in Oahu with their mother. He recently suffered a heart attack and upon their arrival, the family realizes Papa is about to lose his land and house. Then Pili discovers a diary of a treasure hunter and she goes on a hunt with her friend to save her grandfather.

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For people thinking, “that sounded pretty formulaic” well, that is the point you see, the movie is formulaic but then it flips the whole formula on its head. Imagine John Wick for a moment, nothing innovative there, a man goes on a killing spree to avenge the death of a loved one.

That story is as old as time. Since the beginning of the movie industry, there have been stories like John Wick’s. But where uniqueness shines through is in the execution of the story on screen. John Wick redefined action movies and how they should be made, while Finding Ohana showed a different way to do the treasure hunt movie.

When a treasure hunt movie isn’t even about hunting the prize itself, now that is a special movie. Finding Ohana did a sleight of hand and revealed itself to be more about heritage, culture than simply getting rich by finding buried gold and treasure.

Watch: The trailer for the Netflix movie Finding Ohana

In Pili and Ioane, the movie showed two kids who were raised away from their heritage and culture. Kids who did not know where they were from really and were trying to blend in for the sake of comfort. That culture, the essence of ancestors, the pride of heritage, that is what Finding Ohana is all about.

There was one scene in the movie which I absolutely love. Pili is translating the diary, which is written in Spanish and her friend is surprised she can speak Spanish. Pili explains that people in New York thought she was from Puerto Rico and instead of correcting everyone, she started learning Spanish.

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That is in stark contrast to the fact that she does not even know her own native language. Fitting in is fine, humans are social beings, and moving to different places, soaking in different cultures is good, but a person should not forget where they are from and try to pass it on to the next generation.

The message Finding Ohana was trying to convey was having pride in your own heritage. Blending in but not mixing to the point that you do not even know who you are anymore. The glowing treasure of hope that society puts in front of us is not the important things, what’s important is family, love, and respect for people who forged the path that you now walk on.

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Last modified: February 1, 2021