Moloka’i Bound is a short statement about fatherhood. Kainoa (Holden Mandrial-Santos) is a young man who has just finished serving time in prison. Now, he wants to connect with his son, Jonathan (Austin Tucker), and become a good father, but that seems not an easy task. Almost all of this 9-minute short film is dedicated to the relationship between Kainoa and Jonathan.
The beauty of Alika Maikau’s comedic drama is in its effort to show all the feelings that both characters have for each other. Jonathan dislikes his father. He hardly looks in his eyes at first. Jonathan even talks to Kainoa in a way that totally shows he does not care about him. But as the father tries harder and harder to find a way to attract Jonathan’s attention, the boy finally opens up. It becomes obvious that not only Jonathan loves his father but looks up to him.
“…just finished serving time in prison. Now, [Kainoa] wants to connect with his son…”
Kainoa is an avid smoker, and because of that, Jonathan brags about smoking while he does not even know how to handle a cigarette. He claims to have six girlfriends when he hears about the romantic past between his parents. In a general sense, Jonathan craves for a father figure, but he’s been deprived of one, and the hatred he has toward his father could actually be his defensive mechanism to cope with this loss.
Maikau deftly explores what it means to be in a family and the sacrifices that come with it. The cast is also strong, believably delivering the emotional nuances of their role while selling the awkwardness of this meeting. Mandrial-Santos and Tucker share strong chemistry and bounce off each other in a manner that highlights the gulf that exists between them, one not just from prison time but also because of their differing views of how the world operates. The screenplay ably balances the drama and comedy to great effect.
Moloka’i Bound is not so complicated. The film tackles an issue that many parents have with their children: the generation gap. This issue is even more impactful when the parents have a difficult past. Maikau seamlessly depicts how this gap, this lack of bonds between generations, takes its toll on both parents and children.
"…ably balances the drama and comedy to great effect."