Netflix’s Finding ‘Ohana breaks a major treasure movie trope with its teen hunters, crafting a realistic and inspirational ending.
In many treasure-hunting movies, there’s always that trope where the heroes find the loot and use it in the end. In the Indiana Jones series and National Treasure, the haul was used to enrich the country’s history and for educational purposes respectively, not to mention it garnered the protagonists a great reputation in the public eye.
Then, in films like The Goonies and Romancing the Stone, the heroes used the treasure for personal gain, as seen when Michael Douglas’ Jack returned as a rich man to take Kathleen Turner’s Joan off into the sunset after obtaining an expensive gem. But with Netflix’s Finding ‘Ohana, this cheesy trope is broken, which crafts a perfect ending and gives it a unique position in the genre.
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The trope of heroes leaving with the loot is clichéd, but this makes for a happy ending, so audiences generally don’t mind. Nicholas Cage’s Benjamin Gates became famous around America, Indy and his dad are legends for their historic contributions and Mikey’s squad helped staved off the repossession of his home when they kept gems from One-Eyed Willy in their bag.
Finding ‘Ohana also finds Pili and Ioane in a desperate spot, as they need the treasure to pay off their grandfather’s hospital bills. Foreclosure is looming, and if they aren’t able to pay both the medical bills and the property taxes, they’ll have to sell their Brooklyn home and stay with Kimo.
Eventually, they find the loot in the Kualoa Mountain, but they have to flee as it’s a cursed tomb. At this point, one assumes they’d escape and somehow magically have a gold coin or two on them, but the film smartly avoids this. The ghostly Nightmarchers claim back the treasure as the island should be honored and respected. Pili’s dead dad, Kua, is the chief spectre, but all he leaves them is the coin their grandfather gave them, and this isn’t part of the treasure.
The film instead concludes with the family selling their Brooklyn place and coming back home, paying off Kimo’s debts and working hard together. It’s a more inspirational finale as they’re not about entitlement or luck, which is why Kimo cut access off to the cave in the first place. This is a great lesson, as it avoids that idealistic and romanticized ending. Even Ioane’s girl, Hana, needed money for Juilliard to study music, but she stays and works as well, loving the heritage and tradition in Hawaii.
The theme of the film isn’t riches being material things — it’s family. Kimo always taught them a happy home is when they’re one, and this is the message they got from their dad too. The fallen soldier leaving Kimo’s coin behind is the real treasure, as it teaches them to cherish each other, because the bonds they share are the real treasure. The fact they don’t ever entertain the idea of selling Kimo’s coin says it all. It has a lot more meaning than its monetary value, and it’s what encourages Pili and Ioane to embrace the island’s spirit and their family’s benevolent, genuine legacy.
Directed by Jude Weng, Finding ‘Ohana stars Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Marc Evan Jackson, Lindsay Watson, Owen Vaccaro, Kelly Hu and Key Huy Quan. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
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