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Finding ‘Ohana | Review



Finding Ohana' Review: Treasure Hunting and Family Healing - The New York  Times

Richard Donner’s The Goonies is one of the greatest family films ever made. Reimagining Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones movies’ adventure escapism with a friendlier tone for children, colorful protagonists (& antagonists), nothing can ever reach the heights that Donner, Spielberg, and Chris Columbus established with their “never say die” approach. This is why every quasi-remake and/or reinterpretation of The Goonies are vastly inferior than its inspiration, as filmmakers are too busy shoving-in as many “winks” and “nods” as possible to Donner’s film instead of creating its own escapist adventure in the vein of The Goonies. Jude Weng’s Finding ‘Ohana is the latest “reimagination” of The Goonies that never becomes confident enough for it to soar on its own, preoccupied with referencing Donner’s film every chance it can, while at the same time trying to insert as many pop-culture references as possible.

Finding ‘Ohana‘s plot has a few differences from The Goonies. Still, its core remains the same: Avid geocacher Pili (Kea Peahu) is forced to go to Hawaii with her family, as her grandfather, Kimo (Branscombe Richmond), had a heart attack. In Hawaii, she discovers the legend of a treasure through a book in Kimo’s house. After it is revealed that Kimo hasn’t paid taxes in five years and Pili’s family might move to Hawaii for good, she believes that finding the treasure will not only pay Kimo’s taxes and medical bills; it’ll bring back Pili’s family to New York. She then sets off on an adventure with Casper (Owen Vaccaro) in the hopes of finding the treasure. Now, where have I seen that before? Oh yes…

The Goonies (1985) - IMDb

Finding ‘Ohana never once hides its main inspiration–its plot is a direct copy/paste of The Goonies: children believe they can save their family’s homes from the government by finding a treasure that may or may not exist. There are a few “twists” here and there that attempt at making it “fresh.” Still, the constant callbacks from Richard Donner’s film, whether be quotes (“Hey, you guys”), similar setpieces, heck, even actors (with Ke Huy Quan appearing in three scenes in a minor supporting role), makes Finding ‘Ohana superbly unconfident. I’m not saying it isn’t okay to callback a film that inspired you to make yours, but constantly referencing it so the viewer can act like Chris Evans’ infamous scene in The Avengers will never make the movie you’re making stand on its own. If it doesn’t reference The Goonies, endless pop-culture trends are here to fill in the gaps, as characters only “talk in trends,” through Keanu Reeves, Meghan Trainor, or “youth slang” references to make its stories more “hip” and “fresh,” with none of the dialogue sounding in any way smart and/or funny, as opposed to Donner’s film.

Finding 'Ohana movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

Finding ‘Ohana also plagiarizes Luis’ stories from Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man, when Pili tells the story of how the treasure was discovered (presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio). It never cares if the “references” to other material are too obvious, which, in some cases, could be considered as plagiarism. When you “borrow” another source material, straight-up copying it either doesn’t make you a confident filmmaker or creatively inept. And Finding ‘Ohana is full of ineptitudes. The film’s “adventure setpieces” are dull, lacking in any “whimsy” or the enthralling excitement of the treasure-hunting film due to its “been there, done that” nature. We’ve seen *most* of it before, and it never [ever] misses a beat in predictability. Great reimaginings of past films incorporate core elements from the source material without ever making it feel like a rip-off or a bad copy/paste. It expands on what made the original film so great but does something completely different with its inspiration.

The only time Finding ‘Ohana distances itself well from The Goonies is during its climax, when it starts exploring Hawaiian mythology, through its “Night Marchers.” The sequence is genuinely effective, with some legitimate “light scares” for families and key moments of visual storytelling that could make you shed a few tears, even if you didn’t care about anything that came before it. It’s a shame audiences will have to wait almost TWO HOURS (!) before it.

If the film distanced itself fully from The Goonies, with light callbacks from the film, and focused on creating a story that explored the mythic Night Marchers and its tomb, maybe it could’ve been an exciting family-adventure film. However, the film is too busy trying to point out endless references to the viewers: “Look! Ke Huy Quan!” “Look! She said: hey, you guys!” “Look!” “Look!”…I looked and didn’t like what I saw.

Finding ‘Ohana is now available to stream on Netflix.

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Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”



Ariana DeBose as Asha in Wish (Disney)


Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Ariana Debose as Asha in Wish (Disney)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.

Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.

This Wish by Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.

At All Costs by Chris Pine & Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.

I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.

My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?

My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!

Wish Official Trailer (Disney)

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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy



Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments



Official poster of 'Nightingales in the Cocoon' (Unchained Pictures)

Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the power of shared experiences. In just five minutes, this story carries a profound message that transcends its simplicity. Dharavi, often characterized by its challenging environment, serves as the backdrop for the story’s beginning. It sets the stage for two children’s life-altering decision to break free from their past. This decision, in itself, is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the pursuit of a better life.

The symbolism of leaving behind what is perceived as “trash” is a powerful metaphor for shedding the burdens of the past. The discarded keyboard, seemingly insignificant, becomes a symbol of forgotten dreams and overlooked opportunities. As fate would have it, two young kids in Navi Mumbai stumble upon this abandoned keyboard, which becomes the catalyst for a heartwarming journey. The excitement and curiosity the keyboard sparks in them are relatable and heartening. It reminds us of the pure joy that simple discoveries can bring, especially to young minds eager for new experiences.

A still from ‘Nightingales in the Cocoon’ (MUBI)

The act of acquiring batteries to breathe new life into the neglected instrument is a moment of resourcefulness and determination. It’s a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a little effort can rekindle lost passions and unlock new possibilities. The transformation of the once-silent keys into a source of melodies that fill the air is a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of art and creativity. The kids’ dance to these newfound tunes is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures and the joy of shared experiences.

This story serves as a reminder that shared moments of happiness can bridge the gaps between individuals and communities. In the bustling city where stark contrasts exist, the shared joy and rekindled dreams bring people together. It’s a testament to the universal language of music and the ability of the human spirit to find connections even in the most unexpected places.

Nightingales in the Cocoon beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the universal desire for connection and joy. It’s a brilliant and simple narrative that reminds us of the beauty in the everyday moments of life and the power of transformation and human connection.

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