Movie Review – Moana

MoanaMoana Poster

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements; co-directed by Don  Hall and Chris Williams

Starring the voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temeura Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.


Some were excited for Moana because she’s Disney’s newest princess.  Others are excited because Broadway’s current superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda did the songs.  I was excited because of directors John Musker and Ron Clements.  During that time in animation now lovingly called “The Disney Renaissance,” Musker and Clements gave us The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules.  While I’ve mostly enjoyed Disney’s current run of films, I was hoping Musker and Clements first foray into CGI could give things a little more of that Disney Renaissance feel.


On the south Pacific island of Motunui, young Moana is being groomed by her father to some day take over as chief of their tribe.  But, Moana’s heart belongs to the ocean, and she longs to strike out and journey.  There’s a darkness starting to consume the land, started a thousand years ago when the demigod Maui stole the heart of the goddess Te Fiti.  And now, to save her people, Moana must strike out on a quest to find Maui and make him return Te Fiti’s heart.  It’s a quest full of coconut pirates, a journey to the Realm of Monsters, and they must even face off against a lava demon.  Can Moana and Maui survive the journey and save Motunui?

What I Liked

Almost as much as Robin Williams’ Genie, Dwayne Johnson steals the show as Maui.  He just oozes so much bluster and bravado, and who knew the Rock could sing?  Just as scene-stealing is Maui’s tattoo, who occasionally comes to life and serves as Maui’s conscience.  Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is just as charming as our young heroine Moana.  It’s got a great soundtrack, full of incredibly catchy songs.  And because it’s Disney, you know that the animation is just amazing.

What I Didn’t Like

Pretty much the same complaint I had with Musker and Clements last film, The Princess and the Frog.  The plot is formulaic as heck.  That being said, I love that the formula this time out is more “hero’s journey,” and less “princess in distress.”

Final Verdict

I’ll tell you this, I liked it a lot more than Disney’s last princess tale, Frozen.  Fun and crowd pleasing.

3.5 Nibs

Bonus Materials

I hadn’t heard much about the short film that runs in front of it, Inner Workings.  Kind of a riff on Inside Out, this one shows us a guy’s average day from the perspective of his internal organs, and we see the age old struggle between the head and  heart.  Very fun, 3 Nibs.

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