Story

Two brothers, Alama (Vito Aofaga Vito) and Popo (Longi Taulafo), work hard at their family’s plantation in rural Samoa. But they’re tired of their grumpy father’s authoritarian style and don’t earn much money, so they set off to New Zealand as seasonal workers.

At the end of a successful season picking kiwi fruit, Alama wakes up to find that Popo has run away – and taken all of their money. Desperate not to return home empty-handed, Alama seeks help from a local Samoan relative, Bob Titilo (Tofiga Fepulea’i).

Bob is in his 40s. He’s unemployed and still lives with his mother but he’s a self-declared ‘private investigator’ and is determined to solve the case. His unconventional methods soon lead to an action-laden chase through Auckland and the beginning of an extraordinary friendship.

Themes

Coming of age; duty versus fun and adventure; breaking traditions; rebelling against parents; foreign subcultures; traditional Polynesian martial art; self-discovery; friendship; loyalty; community; becoming a better person

Violence

Take Home Pay has some violence:

  • There’s frequent use of traditional Polynesian martial arts to express anger, solve or avoid problems, mark dominance and emphasise Polynesian parental authority over children. On the other hand, martial arts are also used as a way of practising self-discipline and expressing Samoan culture and tradition.
  • Typical fighting moves are twisting arms and hands, punching in the stomach and face, kicking, wrestling, throwing the opponent on the ground, and using a controlled strangle move to put an opponent to sleep.
  • Alama and Popo’s father uses traditional Samoan fighting moves to discipline and punish his sons. He throws heavy objects at them and threatens them with a machete. He also shouts and yells at them.
  • Alama practises his moves as part of daily self-discipline or meditation and as an expression of culture.
  • Alama never attacks Popo but tries to talk with him. But Popo’s immaturity and desire to avoid talking leads to fighting.
  • During or after fights, people ache and pant but no-one seems to be seriously injured or bleeding.

Sexual references

Take Home Pay has some sexual references. For example:

  • People say some mildly flirtatious things like ‘If you were a kiwi fruit, I’d pick you’ and ‘I'm Irish – I rish you were my girlfriend’.
  • Popo hugs two girls.
  • One minor character appears to be a drag queen.
  • The drag queen and two girlfriends pull money out of their bras.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Take Home Pay shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Even though Bob knows he doesn’t tolerate alcohol, he drinks some wine at a wine-tasting event. He then wanders the streets in an out-of-control state, picking fights with strangers, shouting, hysterically laughing, smashing bottles and trying to hit people.
  • One of Alama and Popo’s Samoan elderly relatives tastes wine for the first time. The relative is astounded by the taste, calls it an ‘eye-opener’, takes the whole bottle and then drinks wine regularly.

Nudity and sexual activity

Take Home Pay has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, some Samoan men are shown topless and in traditional sarongs. This exposes their bare and tattooed skin. But this is presented in a traditional/cultural context rather than in a sexualised way.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Take Home Pay: Samoan Airlines.

Coarse language

Take Home Pay has some coarse language and insults, including ‘stupid’.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Take Home Pay is a heartwarming, upbeat and humorous action comedy with an excellent cast.

On one level it’s a story about two young men going on an adventure that ends up being a journey of self-discovery, dreams and friendship. But the movie also offers a valuable insight into the simple life of traditional Samoan farmers as well as the Samoan and wider Polynesian community in New Zealand. Much of the movie is in Samoan with English subtitles.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • You not only hurt others but also yourself when you’re selfish.
  • It’s never too late to show remorse.
  • You can learn from your mistakes to become a better person.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • learning from mistakes
  • building family and community cohesion
  • helping others
  • giving everyone chances and second chances
  • reaching out for help
  • asking for forgiveness
  • knowing where you belong
  • being creative and innovative
  • making the best of your circumstances and potential.

Take Home Pay could give you the chance to talk with your children about selfishness, impulsiveness, cowardice, bullying and mean ness, betrayal or trust, responsibility, and the use of violence to solve problems.

You might also like to talk about:

  • cultural diversity and tolerance
  • family, community and friendship
  • the ability to admit when you’re wrong and say sorry
  • forgiveness and letting go of grudges.