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Movies Made in Hawaii

Updated on August 25, 2016

Since 1913, there have also been over 200 movies filmed in Hawaii. These are some of my favorite movies in which the producers and actors flew all the way to Hawaii. I will only list two of the actors from each movie and give a short summary of what it is about.

50 First Dates (2003) starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore

This movie is fun movie about a veterinarian named Henry (Adam Sandler) who dreams of sailing to Alaska to study walruses. He has no intention of having a relationship because it might delay his plans. Henry is close to making his dream come true when his schooner has an accident during a trial run, which lands him at the Hukilau Café (okay, there is also a Hukilau Café in the town of Laie where I live). Henry falls hard for Lucy (Drew Barrymore), who is having breakfast by herself.

The following day he returns to the Hukilau. Again alone with her waffles, Lucy is joined by Henry, and as they get acquainted he can’t resist his attraction. He makes a date to meet her for breakfast the next day totally ignoring his own rule about dating local girls. Lucy has short-term memory loss and so she can’t remember who he is when she meets him again. This makes for an interesting and comical dilemma.

Blue Crush (2002) starring Kate Bosworth and Matthew Davis

Someone complained that the only movies filmed in Hawaii are crappy 50’s movies with John Wayne or Elvis, WWII movies set in the Pacific, or movies that are supposed to be set in exotic island locales such as Indonesia...But very few movies with actual Hawaiians set in everyday situations and in everyday Hawaiian locations. You have to be aware that there is a great cultural diversity in Hawaii. Some haoles (white people) have been here for a few generations. Well here is one movie with a local flavor.

I used to watch Gidget goes Hawaii way back when, but this one is a similar modern version. It is about surfer girls with guts and attitude and combines romance with drama. Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is a young woman living in Hawaii who has been surfing since she was a little girl. She has been training for the prestigious Pipe Masters surfing competition. (BTW, many surfing competitions take place less than 15 miles from where I live on the North Shore) Her mother abandoned her years ago, leaving her to raise her younger sister while wading through adolescence herself. Lucky that she has close friends who give her some needed support. Anne Marie meets Matt (Matthew Davis), a quarterback who is visiting and has his eye on her. Some of the actors had to learn to surf for the shooting and others were already good at the sport. You wonder if she will end up with the boy or the surfing championship. I love watching surfing and admire anyone who can stay up on those boards.

Mighty Joe Young (1997) starring Charlize Theron and Bill Paxton

This film was mesmerizing to me. It was the first time I had seen Charlize Theron (Jill) and her interactions with the huge Gorilla, Joe were so real. Paxton wants to remove the majestic beast from the imminent danger of poachers and move him to a nature reserve in California. Jill has been Joe's soul mate from birth and she is the only human who can connect with him. As they are trying to save Joe, poachers have other plans. Might Joe is confused and doesn’t feel at home in L.A. so it gets pretty intense.

George of the Jungle (1996) starring Brendan Fraser and Leslie Mann

This movie is based on a cartoon series by Jay Ward, where an uncoordinated king of the jungle is the star. Following a plane crash, a young boy named George (Brendan Fraser) becomes lost in the jungles of the Africa. He is rescued and raised to manhood by an intelligent ape. George is cheerful and kind but not terribly smart and he has a nasty habit of running into trees while swinging through the trees. Ursula (Leslie Mann) goes on a safari to remove herself from her fiancé for a bit where she becomes stranded and is rescued by George She is unaware that her fiancé is following her and wants to rescue her to impress her. George is unaware of the proper ways to court a woman, but with the help of the ape, he doesn’t do too badly. I have my grandchildren to thank for helping me watch this one over and over.

Waterworld (1994) Kevin Costner and Jeanne Tripplehorn

This movie had it right about global warming. As the polar ice caps in the world have all melted, very little land remains, causing some humans to mutate and grow fins and gills, to adapt to their new environment. One of the mutants is named Mariner (Kevin Costner).

Dirt is more precious then gold, and orange trees are very valuable. Those who have not mutated attempt to kill what they consider to be unnatural creatures. Mariner (Costner) is captured, locked in a cage, awaiting his execution. Mariner makes a lucky escape, and reluctantly saves Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn). Mariner then finds a piece of land, which is still dry and habitable by land-living humans. After many struggles, Mariner finally reaches his goal, but ashamed of his mutation, he feels unworthy and sails off into the distance. Besides enjoying the look of Kevin Costner, I thought the movie was very inventive and I wondered if it could happen for real.

Jurassic Park (1992) Sam Neill and Laura Dern

My grandson watched this show a few dozen times while I stayed with him. He is a dinosaur nerd. Being a fan of Steven Spielberg, this was a “must see” for me. It is about a millionaire who has the great idea to bring back the dinosaurs through cloning, and open them up in an amusement park to the public. It gets way out of hand (blood and gore). I like the graphic effects of the production. It was so realistic.

Hook (1991) Robin Williams and Caroline Goodall

Okay, another Steven Spielberg movie. It is so creative and brings to life the story of Peter Pan with one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams. Peter Banning has lost any memory of being Peter Pan, and he is also in danger of losing his wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) and two children. They travel to London to visit Granny Wendy who asks him, "Peter, dear, don't you know who you are?" The rest of the movie is about how Peter gets back to being his old self with all his powers and meeting up with Captain Hook and being helped by Tinkerbell.

I could go on and on about other movies I have seen that were filmed in Hawaii, but suffice it to say that there have been a few excellent ones. I understand there is a new movie filmed in Hawaii called A Perfect Getaway. Hopefully I will get to see it soon and tell you about it. I understand it was filmed on the island of Kauai on the Na Pali Coast, a beautiful place I visited a few years ago. It is a horror story, so I am curious how it will go. I have been reading ghost stories from Hawaii, so it is right down my alley.


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