Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is a teenage girl who hears the call of the ocean and wants a life of adventure, but as the daughter of the chief she is expected to stay and watch over her people. As the island becomes sick, Moana goes out in a search of the demigod Maui (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) and with his help must return the heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place.
Moana and Maui face numerous foes, but it’s the movie’s quieter moments with her grandmother that prove more powerful. Certainly better than an action beat featuring a bunch of coconut pirates that are there just to sell toys to your kids.
At first the music wasn’t clicking with me. I kept waiting for the “Let It Go” moment that would give me chills, but it never came. But wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I left the theater I started whistling to myself and then immediately went to Spotify to listen to the soundtrack. Once I stopped comparing the music to other Disney movie’s I was able to enjoy it. Most of the music was written by Hamilton’s Lin Manuel-Miranda; if Miranda wins an Oscar for his music (and he’s a heavy favorite to do so) he will not only be one of 13 people to win an EGOT, but one of three people to win a PEGOT, because he also has a Pulitzer for funsies.
Auli’i Cravalho who’s making her feature film debut, is great as Moana has a fantastic voice and stands tall with one of Hollywood’s biggest actors. Johnson really gets into the role of the demigod Maui and is as colorful as the world around him. Is there anything ‘People’s Sexiest Man’ can’t do?
Moana is a strong, independent female character who doesn’t like being called a princess and doesn’t need a love interest. Obviously she will still be remembered as a Disney Princess, but the mouse has come a long way from a helpless maiden who spends most of the movie asleep while Prince Charming does all the work.
Moana is a return to the classic story that made Disney one of the most famous brands in the world. I didn’t like the coconut pirates, but you know who will probably love them? The kids. Moana is a sure fire smash hit, with amazing visuals, cute jokes, amazing music, and a well-rounded character that audiences will love. B+