Featuring The Voices Of: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Temuera Morrison, Rachel House
Directed by: Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, and Chris Williams

Plot: A young island princess named Moana (Cravalho) is chosen to restore a lost gem to its rightful place, with the help of Maui (Johnson), a boisterous demi-god. Music ensues.

What Works: I loved the music. I found myself singing parts of the songs on the ride home. Frozen and Moana really are triggering what is a new golden age for Disney, where they are entrusting the music to Broadway composers, and it is changing their game big time. I wasn’t a big fan of Shiny, but the rest of the songs were great. The story itself is somewhat solid, even if the crab in the middle is a wasted villain. I was emotionally invested in Moana from the beginning, and when our film suffers our first casualty, I was genuinely moved even though it happened in the first act. The voice talents really added a lot to their roles, and the music lets the film soar. It’s a beautifully animated film, and has a really amazing message for all the little girls out there thinking they need a prince, or dreaming of growing up to be a wife and mother. You can be so much more. You can write your own path, be the hero of your own story.

What Doesn’t Work: Shiny. Honestly, aside from that entire sequence, I loved Moana from beginning to end. I just wish the crab had never sung. I don’t even mind the crab so much, but when he gets his own song, it’s like he becomes elevated to the primary antagonist role, and he’s so NOT the primary antagonist. So not only did a secondary antagonist get a solo, but he got a song I’d rather not listen to again.

Final Word: But, I honestly can’t remember Shiny, because I’m still singing “away away, we sail across the sea” because the other songs in Moana are so damn catchy they made me forget that song abortion even existed. Parents, definitely take your daughters to see Moana. And take your sons too. They might just realize that girls can be more than damsels in distress.

Final Grade: A

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