Following on from the adorable Zootropolis earlier this year, Disney Animation delivers another fantastic film to end 2016 – the beautiful, funny and simply lovely Moana.
Set on the Polynesian island of Motunui, it tells the story of young Moana (Cravalho), who is being raised to lead her people but dreams of sailing the oceans instead. She finally gets her chance when the island’s crops come under threat, and she sets off on an adventure to return a magical stone to its owner with the very reluctant help of the demi-god Maui (Johnson, hilarious) who stole it in the first place.
Aside from the stunning animation and fun vocal performances, what makes Moana such a treat is the story of the girl herself. This Disney heroine doesn’t need a romantic lead like Frozen’s Anna, so there is no mushy love story stuff to put male viewers off. She’s a strong, funny, curious girl, which makes her appealing to everyone, and while she has a demi-god to help her, she is just as brave, strong and smart as he is.
That doesn’t mean that Disney traditions are forgotten – Moana does have a couple of cuddly companions, a little pig and the completely bonkers chicken Hei Hei – and there is a memorable soundtrack as you’d expect, too, with original songs written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. ‘We Know The Way’, ‘How Far I’ll Go’ and ‘You’re Welcome’, a hilarious, egotistic tune sung with verve by Johnson, all stay with you and will have you humming long after the movie ends.
Mixing comedy and adventure with some stunning animation – the ocean literally comes alive, while little touches like Maui’s moving tattoos are a treat – this also benefits from a real sense of fun (we’ll overlook a twitter joke that falls flat with a thud). Even moments when Moana is in danger have humour in them (adults will hoot at the ocean attack from the coconut-like kakamora, which is like a scene from Waterworld if it was re-enacted in a supermarket fruit and veg aisle), and there is no ‘big bad’ villain for parents of little children to worry about (the closest is a crustacean with an obsession with bling who is more fabulous than scary).
It adds up to a charming, joyful and unmissable oceanic adventure – and one with a kick-ass Disney heroine for the 21st century, too.
Is Moana suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may be upset when they first meet the crab under the sea but will then find him funny.
Maui and Moana are in danger a few times but it is never scary.
For some Moana activity sheets, click HERE.