Disney movie review: Moana

I could have just used Ken Levine’s review and edited it down.

The family attended a Sunday matinee of the new Disney movie Moana.  It was showing several places, but we will always opt for our favored venue, the Spectrum 8 in Albany.

I noted that it reviewed well. After I saw it, I was struggling with my feelings about it. I’ve pushed back against the reductivist that all the Disney princesses are, ethnicity aside, largely clones of each other.

The good:
This movie, fortunately, avoided even a hint of romance
Use of an original tale from Polynesian mythology
The opening, which I found fascinating
A very specific bit of girl power/rebellion that I rather enjoyed
Some funny coconut villains, although they reminded me of certain little characters in a Star Wars movie
A couple of good songs, including one by a villain, called Shiny – I LOVE the Disney villain songs – and You’re Welcome sung by The Rock Dwayne Johnson as the demigod Maui, who is not bad in the role
Maui’s tattoos, which may be my favorite character
The post-credit scene was funny

The not-so-good:
Why do the two main characters, both have names that start with M, Moana, and Maui? Maybe it’s authentic, but it was confusing to some
Someone has studied just how alike almost all of the Disney princesses are, the girl in Brave excepted, with the same large eyes
The character that dies (doesn’t that ALWAYS happen?) reminds me of that wise tree in Pocahontas
A stupid animal that specifically reminded me of the none-too-bright creature in Finding Dory
Most of the other songs, co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, were OK, but I don’t much remember them – here they are
The story resolution reminded me of another Disney short

Actually, I could have just used Ken Levine’s review and edited it down.

Auli’i Cravalho is quite good as Moana, and the other voice actors were fine. It looks good like a decent Disney movie should, and maybe I shouldn’t state that as a given. In fact, the water scenes look GREAT.

But this is the most damning bit: The Daughter asked The Wife to check the time. I told The Wife that I thought the movie was nice but inessential, and she agreed.

If you’ve never seen a Disney film, you will be in awe of this. If you have seen several, and I have, you’ll likely enjoy it well enough, even as you may have a sense of deja vu. Or maybe, like SamuraiFrog, you’ll really enjoy it.

The preceding seven-minute short, Inner Workings, addresses how the body parts – the heart, the stomach – rebel against the responsible man’s brain. Man just wants to have fun v. do the responsible thing.

It reminded me a little of Inside Out with its internal struggle. It was pleasant, but I wasn’t drawn in as much as other Disney shorts. I liked it well enough, especially the ending, which actually happens in the closing credits. Here’s the Inner Workings trailer.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Disney movie review: Moana”

  1. I haven’t seen it yet (and I seldom see Disney movies), but I was apprehenisve about it when I first heard about it because I was afraid it would be cultural appropriation. I learned later that they had extensive cultural advisers on the team.

    “Moana” means “ocean” in Hawaiian and Māori, which is probably why they chose that name, and, of course, the ocean is central to the Polynesians and their legends, and also the story of the film.

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