On a faraway island paradise where everyone is happy, Princess Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean. She has grown up listening to her grandmother’s stories of the ocean, about Maui the demiGod who stole the heart of mother nature and plunged the world into darkness. When darkness begins to invade her paradise, Moana has to get out into the ocean, find Maui and save the world. But impish Maui has other plans…
Before you read on, book the tickets now. This is a fun, frothy, adventure from Disney that does not disappoint. Kids as well as parents will love the little Moana who tends to wander off to the ocean if you let your attention wander away from her even for half a minute. You will be just as fascinated as the kids in the movie when dear old granny tells the story of the ocean. You’ll adore the way Moana fights the hungry seagulls and uses a leaf to offer shade a baby turtle making its way to the sea.
Maui is voiced by Dwayne Johnson and he clearly steals the film even though the title of the film suggests otherwise. Maui is wicked and sharp and funny and sweet and is animated beautifully. You get frustrated by his refusal to help Moana, and you are in awe of his seafaring skills when he chooses to use them.
For parents of little girls, this film is rather empowering. Moana is not just a sweet girl, a princess for her parents, but is fearless. And unlike other Disney princesses, does not need a prince charming to fall in love with in order to live happily ever after. She has courage, this Moana. Is willing to try out a daunting task, has an adventurous streak, is unafraid, and more. But she does not lose her cuteness even for a minute.
Moana is a very straightforward story and you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of animation on the screen. And it is rather satisfying. There are just enough songs, just enough ‘wow’ moments, and lots of laughter. Hey-Hey the chicken will remind you of not one, but many people in your own life - silly, stubborn or plain bonkers. And the sea, the sea! It is not just a gigantic expanse where coconut pirates thrive, nor is it the intimidating thing from Life Of Pi. It is a living thing that partners Moana and Maui.
When the movie ends on a wonderful note, you hope daughters will be the heroes of families everywhere. To see that Disney is stepping away from the traditional ‘Prince Charming saves Damsel in Distress’ - Frozen was a wonderful start - is a great thing. Moana is another step towards creating female role models. And what a delightful role model she turns out to be. Maui too is a great character. His eyebrow raised in wickedness will keep you smiling long after the movie is over.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)