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What is the most Hawaiian movie set in Hawaii?
Lilo, left, teaches Stitch to hula in the Disney animated comedy "Lilo & Stitch." - photo by Jeff Peterson
Alongside the effects-heavy disaster flick San Andreas and a few smaller-budgeted movies, this weekend sees the release of Aloha, a star-studded romantic comedy featuring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin from rom-com auteur Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire).

Despite an impressive pedigree, the film has already come under fire from some groups for what they feel is a whitewashed depiction of Hawaii that misappropriates indigenous culture.

The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) released a statement (via The Guardian) saying, Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population (of Hawaii), but from watching this film, youd think they made up 99 percent. This comes in a long line of films The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Blue Crush, Pearl Harbor that uses Hawaii for its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there. Its an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.

Another point of criticism has been the title, which some native Hawaiians feel misuses a word sacred to their culture, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hawaii has long been a favorite location for major Hollywood films dating back to 1913. Sometimes, the eight main islands that make up Hawaii are used as stand-ins for other tropical settings. Jurassic Park and its upcoming sequel, Jurassic World, which are supposed to take place off the coast of Costa Rica, were filmed largely on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai. But frequently, they feature in more prominent roles, as in the films mentioned by MANAA as well as classics like From Here to Eternity or the Elvis Presley hit Blue Hawaii.

However, as State Film Commissioner Dawn Dawson told the Associated Press, "(Hawaiians) have had a century of misrepresentation, of misunderstanding, of miscommunication of who we are. We have fallen prey to the stereotypical ideas that people have about Hawaii. It's not based in truth and it's not authentic."

So what, if any, movie does the best job portraying Hawaii the way it really is?

According to Honolulu Magazine, that would be Disneys Lilo & Stitch.

In terms of overall Hawaii authenticity, Honolulu Magazines Lorraine Jonemann rated it 10 out of 10, saying, Disneys Hawaii is not the one seen through the lenses of tourists or wanna-be surfers; its as close to the real Hawaii as a cartoon about an alien can get. The Kilauea lighthouse, the Princeville Hotel, a shave ice stand, a poster of Duke Kahanamoku hanging in Nanis bedroom, pidgin-speaking characters all these details reinforced the Hawaii connection. Lilos hula lessons, Nanis surfing. Disney never lets you forget that you are in Hawaii.

Other films mentioned for their authentic representation of Hawaii include Picture Bride (9 out of 10), a film about a Japanese immigrant in 1918; and the World War II movie Tora! Tora! Tora! (8 out of 10). Of the latter film, Jonemann says, The birds-eye view of pineapple farm workers and mountaintops showed more of Oahu than 2001s Pearl Habor.

With the recent backlash that Hollywood has gotten over films like "Exodus: Gods and Kings" and now Aloha, filmgoers might finally be able to look forward to more accurate representations of other cultures in the movies.

And for Hawaii, one potential bright spot on the horizon is actually another Disney movie. Taking a completely different approach to Hawaiian culture than the contemporary-set Lilo & Stitch, Disneys upcoming 56th animated feature, Moana, which is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 23, 2016, looks at the mythology of the Pacific Island cultures, including Hawaii.

The film has already cast one of its main characters: as the Hawaiian demigod Maui, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who grew up partly in Hawaii.
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