Based on the beloved story, this wholesome coming-of-age tale is "a wonderful family film full of tender moments, exciting adventure and good, old-fashioned values" ("The 700 Club")! Far away on a tropical island, an orphan boy named Tama is "cursed" by his tribe and finds comfort in a fellow outcast: Mahana, a feisty girl shunned for herragged appearance. When Tama sails off in search of a new life, he promises a tearful Mahana to return for her someday. But Tama's journey leads him to Johnny Lingo, a wealthy trader who makes Tama his apprentice and heir. Now, as Tama embraces his new life, he must learn that the measure of a man is not in his possessions but in love, friendship and in Tama's case honoring a promise from the past.
The 1969 short movie of the beloved Johnny Lingo receives feature-length treatment in this heartwarming family film by veteran producers John Garbett and Jerry Molen. Filmed in New Zealand, this seafaring adventure expands the legend of the wealthy island trader by tracing back to childhood the boy, Tama, who eventually becomes Johnny Lingo's namesake. When a storm casts ashore a tiny canoe carrying the infant boy, Tama's tribe receives him as a gift from the gods. But when misfortune strikes, Tama is cursed and cast out to live with a feisty girl, Mahana, and her drunken father. Mahana and Tama forge a friendship and when Tama is old enough to sail away from the island, he vows one day to return for her. Good fortune takes Tama to the isle of Johnny Lingo, who teaches him life lessons of fair trade, hard work, and honor. Tama eventually returns to bestow dignity on Mahana in an ashes-to-beauty love story. Steven Ramirez, in his directorial debut, retains the spirit of Patricia McGerr's original story, "Johnny Lingo's Eight Cow Wife," underscoring the power of second chances. (Ages 6 and older) --Lynn Gibson