I had been looking forward to Moana since Disney first released information about it, and not only was it well worth the wait, it was so much better than I expected. It follows a young girl who, with the help of demigod Maui, tries to save her Polynesian island, and even though the story itself isn’t particularly special, everything else makes up for it.
Firstly, the characters are wonderfully well-rounded. Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, is one bragging demigod, but it appears there is more to him than his heroic deeds. He also argues with his hilarious tattooed mini-me, who is basically helping him on the right path. Moana herself, voiced by real-life look-a-like Auli’i Cravalho, is a strong, independent woman who can stand her ground, but who also makes mistakes. Besides that, her hair very realistically keeps getting in her face, and with more flesh around her bones and a waist that is not as inhumanly thin as the overused wasp-waist, Moana is a princess with a more realistic body shape than, well, basically other female Disney character (except for Nani from Lilo and Stitch). And yes, she is a princess, although Moana herself would say that she’s just the daughter of a chief, but it basically comes down to the same. Besides, “if you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”
Talking about the animal sidekick, you would never think that an idiotic chicken like Heihei could steal the show, but he does. Besides this surprise, there is also the adorable Pua the pig, but he sadly doesn’t have as much screen time as Heihei. Another character (human) who hasn’t enough screen time is Moana’s grandmother, who is just hard not to love even though (or because) she is the “crazy village lady”. And watch out for a cameo from a character of another recent beloved Disney film as one of the easter eggs!
"You would never think that an idiotic chicken like Heihei could steal the show, but he does"
Of course, as a Disney film, it needs catchy songs and a wonderful soundtrack, and with thanks to the mastermind behind Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, it has just that (although admittedly, they’re not as big of a hit as Frozen’s “Let it Go”, but that is a high bar to pass). Inspired by the Polynesian music, it feels exotic and familiar at the same time, and you will have some songs stuck in your head for quite a while. And who knew Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson could sing?!
It is also very refreshing to have a Disney princess film in which romance is not important at all. No soon-to-be-spouse to the chief-to-be in sight. Not mentioned either, and in fact, they don’t even dare to think about it. Instead, this is just a story about finding who you are while saving the world, and you better get on that canoe and join Moana, because she will kick your ass if you don’t. Maui had to learn the hard way.
Honestly, I believe I have seen all of Disney’s animated films, but I think this film has already become one of my favourites. I urge you to go see it over the holidays, because it’s one wonderful journey, and then, what can I say, except… You’re welcome.
More like this: Lilo and Stitch (2002)