Finding ‘Ohana (Netflix)

For a lot of us, spending a summer in Hawaii sounds like a dream come true, but not for siblings Pili and Ioane.

Pili and Ioane grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and enjoy the chaotic, city life. When their grandfather, who lives in Hawaii, has a heart attack, their mother rushes them to Hawaii to be with him. This unexpected summer trip does not go over well with Pili and Ioane who had their own ideas on how to spend their summer.

Now, stuck on an island far away from friends, the two must find some way to entertain themselves. For Ioane, this consists of spending time on his phone and mocking his sister. For Pili, this means embarking on a treasure hunt with the clues she discovered in her grandfather’s journal. Ioana soon finds himself (unwillingly) involved on his sister’s “stupid” quest.

What promised to be a boring summer, soon turns into an adventure they will never forget, ultimately bring the family closer together.

Finding ‘Ohana has a distinct Journey to the Center of the Earth / Indiana Jones feel to it. The cast, particularly Kea Peahu (Pili), Alex Aiono (Ionae), Lindsay Watson (Hana), and Owen Vaccaro (Casper) do a stellar job carrying the movie. This family-friendly movie (Fun fact: there is only one make-out scene) can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Safety (Disney+)

College is challenging enough, but it is even more challenging when you are struggling to provide for your younger brother.

Safety, recently released on Disney+, is based on a true story. Jay Reeves plays Ray McElrathbey, a young man with a football scholarship to Clemson University. What starts off as your average college experience quickly takes a drastic turn when Ray’s mother is admitted into a drug recovery program. Now, Ray must juggle caring for his 11-year old brother Fahmarr (played by Thaddeus J. Mixson) while maintaining his rigorous academic and athletic life. Ray’s devotion and care for Fahmarr ultimately jeopardizes his scholarship to Clemson, and Ray soon has to make a decision – football or Fahmarr.

With a talented cast and a good plot, this feel-good movie is definitely worth the watch.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is another of Netflix’s new Christmas movies, and … its a musical!!

Jeronicus Jangle is the Willy Wonka of toys. He is the world’s greatest inventor! But tragedy strikes. One night, Jeronicus’ ideas are stolen and produced by someone who was once a friend. Unfortunately, his ideas weren’t the only thing Jeronicus lost that night. As days and years pass, Jeronicus slowly loses his creativity, lust for life, and ultimately his family, leaving him a grumpy and lonely old man. That all changes when his granddaughter, Journey, shows up. Her creative, joyful persistence is no match for her cranky old grandfather. Ever so slowly, he begins to rediscover the magic in life.

The cast of Jingle Jangle is stellar! My favorite character by far was Journey; Madalen Mills does a fantastic job capturing Journey’s enthusiasm. Forest Whitaker does an excellent job playing the cantankerous Jeronicus, and Keegan-Michael Key does an excellent job as the villain.

I didn’t realize when I started watching it that Jingle Jangle was a musical. I absolutely love Madalen Mill’s (Journey’s) voice. She sings one song in particular – Square Root of Possible – which is my favorite song in the show. It is sort of the “Let It Go” of the film.

The vibrant colors, stellar cast, and fun music make Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey an interesting movie. While I can’t say I enjoyed it (I thought the story was a little slow), I was blown away by the excellent voices and drawn in by the fun colors and believable cast.

If you are looking for a family friendly Christmas movie, and are tired of the old classics, you might want to check Jingle Jangle out on Netflix.

Christmas on the Square

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is what I would call a “cringe-worthy” movie. It is one of those movies you want to like but aren’t quite sure if you can. The sheer outrageousness makes you want to laugh and cringe at the same time. That being said, I did get goosebumps at one point in the film, so they must have done something right.

In all honesty, I’d probably watch it again simply because I liked the music. The cast is strong and have excellent voices; there is no doubt they can sing.

So, if you find yourself board of all the traditional holiday favorites and believe yourself strong enough to survive the cheesiness that is Christmas on the Square, you might want to check it out on Netflix.

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals

Ever wondered what would happen if our favorite princes and princesses had siblings? Well, wonder no more. Disney’s Secret Society of Second-Born Royals answers that question. They would be super heroes!

This movie is enjoyable for all ages. While adults my spot a few plot holes, they are not so egregious as to prevent you from enjoying the movie. The ending does imply a possible sequel, and quite honestly, I hope they make one.

Be sure to check it out! It is available on Disney+.

Also, fun fact, there was no profanity in the film, something my sister pointed out to me at the end. She was right, and I am still blown away. The show is rated PG, but I think it could have easily been rated “G”, even with the action scenes.