Moana (2016)

Hypothetical Netflix Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Moana manages to be, at the same time, an average run of the mill Disney movie and a metaphorical outsider. Moana herself is a princess of sorts, though when called such, she corrects the title to Chieftain. There are plenty of catchy songs that will get stuck in your head. And there is of course the love interest. Not. For once, Disney has a princess, sorry, chieftain without a prince. I know what you’re gonna say, “but in Brave that ginger girl doesn’t pick a prince.” Yeah, but that was still a central theme to the movie. Moana doesn’t even bring up trying to get the title character hitched. I smell a test passer.

The story centers around Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), duh, who was raised on this island and taught never to past the reef because the sea is a violent place full of death and the island is safe. As a child, she’s told the story of Maui, a demi god who long ago stole the heart of a goddess and in turn lost the heart in the sea. Then, little tiny Moana walks on the beach and the sea, which is alive in this movie so maybe think twice next time you pee in a body of water, opens up and delivers onto her the heart (it’s a tiny glowing green stone, not an actual heart. Just to clarify.).

When Moana gets older, things start going south on the island; the coconuts are rotten, the fish aren’t as plentiful. This is all happening because the heart of the goddess was taken.So are grandmother tells her the truth about her people. They were explorers who never intended to stay on the island forever, it just sorta worked out that way. So she sets out to find Maui and return the heart so that things can go back to being not terrible for her people.

Dwayne”why can’t we just call him The Rock” Johnson plays Maui, who wields a magical fish hook which allows him to change into different animals. Moana finds him on an island and he is the manifestation of twelve bags of douche. He straight up locks Moana in a cave and tries to steal her boat. If her name wasn’t in the title, she would have died in that cave. While Moana’s story focuses on coming into ones own and embracing ones true self even when the odds are greats stacked against you, Maui’s story is about how not being a sack of shit is better for everyone, even if there is a personal cost attached.

The animation in this movie is spot on. Maui’s big musical number is great because of the fact that it blends three different animation styles into the same frame which is a simple enough of an idea, but mind blowingly awesome on screen. It’s that sense of awe and wonder that makes the visual aspect of Disney movies enjoyable for children of all ages…even the ones pushing thirty.

 

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