Disney Animation has done it again. Their latest offering, Moana, is full of adventure, great characters and yes, catchy songs.
Breaking the mold of the Disney princesses that have gone before her, Moana (voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) is an adventurous and delightfully smart 16 year-old. The daughter of Chief Tui (voiced by Temuera Morrison) and Sina (voiced by Nicole Scherzinger) is torn between her duty to one day become the leader the people of her village and the instense pull of the ocean and what lies beyond their protective reef. Gramma Tala (voiced by Rachel House) becomes Moana’s guide as she ultimately follows her heart and destiny.
“The line where the sky meets the sea—it calls me.” ~ Moana
“I could explain every natural phenomenon. The tide? The grass? The ground? Oh that was Maui just messing around.” ~Maui
And then, there’s Maui, the demi-god (artfully voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). He is a wonderfully flawed hero covered with tattoos featuring “Mini Maui” – a two dimensional representation of Maui that serves as the demi-god’s conscience, ensuring that he does the right thing – even when he’d rather not. (A throwback to the days of Pinnocchio and Jiminy Cricket.)
Moana’s sidekicks are a pig named Pua and a ridiculously stunted chicken named Heihei, technically the village idiot. When the clueless chicken accidentally stows away on Moana’s canoe, he lands a front-row seat for her epic journey.
The music is to die for. The score by Mark Mancina has some really great rhythms inspired by music from the Pacific Islands. The rhythms that are signatures of Opetaia Foa’i’s band Te Vaka, which has been performing original Pacific music for more than two decades. The catchy songs with the very sing-able lyrics are the brainchild of musical genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda (of “Hamilton” fame).
All in all, the film is a wonderful collaboration of Disney creativity that will amaze and delight audiences of all ages.
“Moana” is rated PG. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th animated feature sails into theaters on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016.