REVIEW: Disney's Moana – Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson & Auli’i Cravalho

Disney’s newest heroine is Moana and she’s no Princess. In fact, she’s just the daughter of the chief who was selected by the Ocean to set out on an adventure and save the world. Newcomer, and Hawaiian native, Auli’i Cravalho is joined by co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui – a pompous and goofy shapeshifting demi-god (of the wind & sea). Moana must convince Maui to help restore order in the world (after he caused the problems to begin with), while also proving to her father (and herself) that she was chosen for a reason.

Disney created this female led story and not only elected to forgo a love interest – a small decision that should be both noted and applauded – but also took their time (I hear it was 5 years) to research the Polynesian culture, and even include music by Opetaia Foa’i.

Speaking of music, Disney isn’t one to shy away from catchy musical numbers nor big stars. Moana features a clearly Lin-Manuel Miranda written song which is performed surprisingly well by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Your Welcome” might actually be my favorite song from the film).

It couldn’t be a Disney film with an animal sidekick, and Moana’s got two – a pig, Pua, who is more like a puppy, as well as a chicken (or rooster?) named Heihei that reminds me of Becky from Finding Dory (voiced by Alan Tudyk). Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Pua go on the adventure with Moana and Maui, but Hey, it’s a kid flick and the rooster is more Minion-like.

As with nearly all Disney movies, the plot usually has a thinly-veiled message (Be yourself – Frozen; It’s okay to feel – Inside Out; It’s okay to be different; Finding Nemo/ Finding Dory; etc) and I feel like Moana’s message is a reminder that with determination you can achieve your goals.

Check out the trailer below, and then catch Moana in theaters November 23rd, 2016.

Moana

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

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