Moana is the new Disney animated flick that came out this weekend and it’s pretty great. Everyone should see it.
What you are probably asking yourself is, “self, do you think this is going to have another Let it Go that will drill its way into my eardrums, causing massive bleeding?” Well, probably not – almost all the tunes in the movie are good to great but not as ear-wormy, I don’t think. But still really good tunes even if sometimes they fall into the “this is the hero song”, ‘this is the setup song”, etc. formula.
My favorite was “We Know the Way” which is a thrilling song that ties direclty into the movie and is amazing to watch on screen. The combination of music and lyrics and the historical message was thrilling. And not just thrilling in the movie but also in the consideration that the South Pacific Islanders probably did ride the waves in their boats as depicted. The movie made me see the culture in a different way.
Check out the clip from the movie:
Anyhow, this is the movie set in the South Pacific or Polynesia. Not Hawaii, I was surprised to learn – mainly because the young actress playing Moana is Hawaiian but also because another character – a demi-god played by Dwayne Johnson – is named Maui. Figured the island was named for the character. Anyhow, it’s about a girl who will some day by chief of her island tribe and how she wants to venture out past the island shoals to find Maui who had, in the myths, stolen an important pendant from a goddess, thus causing all these years later their island to start dying.
Of course, her dad doesn’t want to let her go because nobody leaves the island and she needs to think of her people who she will one day rule (no ‘you’re a girl’ reasons at least). But she goes, meets up with Maui, and they have adventures. I particularly was surprised by the conclusion of the adventure – hopefully it wasn’t obvious to everyone and I was just lost.
Anyhow, the girl playing Moana is really good and has a good singing voice. She’s strong, independent, and a touch boring. She has no personality other than, “Must explore, I am strong-willed and courageous… and frustrated by this Maui guy” Not too big a problem since I point out to myself, “Self, she’s also playing straight-man to Maui”.
Dwayne Johnson, as Maui, is at peak Dwayne Johnson. I, at first, thought they got the perfect guy to play the part… but then realized they just tailored the part to get the most out of The Rock’s swagger. And he’s really funny and he sings and has nice dramatic moments too. His tattoos are living, breathing characters in their own rights making them the funniest unexpected sentient creatures since Doctor Strange’s cloak.
The rapport he has with Moana is really good. He doesn’t like her… he only likes his fans… so they squabble in the usual kind of way. Maui has the DNA of the Genie from Aladdin by which I mean he makes casual (and rare) pop-culture references though not nearly at the Robin Williams level of mania. Still, he made some great jokes about Disney Princesses and one very bad one about Twitter (I shudder at the punitude).
There are a few problems with the movie in that it is padded a bit with some action scenes but they are generally pretty good even if out of left field and never returned to. There’s also two cute animal sidekicks – a pig and a chicken – but only the chicken is on the adventure. I liked the pig more. And they went back to the chicken well a dozen times too many. You see, the chicken is stupid and walks into things or miss-pecks at his food and they make a joke of that over two dozen times, I bet. It’s not as funny as they think…. it’s funny to start but they drag it into the dirt.
So, yeah, this is a very fun, very charming movie. I have very little bad to say about it. It’s Disney doing what it does best and when they are on their A game, it works (when they aren’t, you get Brother Bear and Home on the Range…. ugh). I recommend it to everyone, even Dwayne Johnson fans who are curious to see what he’ll pull off this time.
Score: 90

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