Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Movie #431: Moana

Moana is an animated Disney film starring Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temeura Morrison, and Jemaine Clement.

Moana (Cravalho) is the daughter of the chieftain of her village on the island of Motunui, and though she longs to sail the seas, she adapts to being a leader and problem solver for her people. Her grandmother (House) tells her stories about the great goddess Te Fiti, whose heart was stolen by the trickster demigod Maui - that lack of heart gave rise to the fire demon Te Ka, whose influence is slowly poisoning the world. When a blight does indeed hit the island, Moana learns that her people were once voyagers, but stopped when boats stopped coming back (thanks to monsters unleashed by the blight). She vows to find Maui and force him to return Te Fiti's heart.

She does find Maui (Johnson), but he's egocentric, puffed up, and in no mood to try and face Te Ka. But Moana helps him get back his magical fishhook from Tamatoa (Clement), a giant crab channeling David Bowie, Maui teaches her to sail, and eventually they confront Te Ka only to learn that Te Ka is Te Fiti - she simply forgot who she was without her heart.

This movie is really beautiful. The music, partially written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, carries the movie without being distracting or shoehorning in a number when we don't need one. The performances are fantastic, and Moana manages to be a badass without feeling like it's unearned - she struggles with her role as the chosen of the ocean, just as Maui struggles with wanting people to love him as a hero.

This is what happens when you get a bunch of people to make a movie with some cultural underpinnings and they understand that culture. Do that more, Disney.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: The Money Pit