Moana (2016)
November 24, 2016 8:25 PM - Subscribe

A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.

An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity. (taken from Google)


Moana is a funny, heartfelt and richly-crafted hero's journey adventure that effectively puts a Disney spin on Southern Pacific culture. (Screen Rant)

A crowd-pleasing oceanic musical with big tunes and beguiling characters, Moana is likely to thwack a big smile on your face. And did we mention the idiotic chicken? (Empire)

As usual, you succumb to an enjoyable experience that splits the difference between mythology and merchandising.
(The NYTimes)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina & Opetaia Foa'i on Creating Disney's 'Moana' Music as 'Hamilton' Exploded. (Billboard)
posted by PearlRose (47 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Loved it! Littlest climbed into my lap for several scenes and we agreed the climatic scene with the lava on the island was the highlight. It was great, character growth for both of the heroes, Moana in finding balance and courage in her destiny, and Maui in putting others first and planning. The crab was truly creepy and kid-scary and the boats were just beautiful, so wonderful as they sailed and soared.

We went straight to the bookshop and got one of the picture books and a painting book. They have some good tie-ins, and I really hope they do boat models and some kind of cuddly Maui and at least a halfway decent version of her amazing head-wear. I am wondering what the merchandising people went with for the specific symbols of the outfits as they look beautifully specific in the movie but mass production sort of goes against the whole essential nature of many of these ceremonial outfits that have personal or local stuff in them. It'll be interesting to read the cultural dialogue in that because it looks like they did some serious work behind the scenes.

And my kid's retort when I said that I thought Moana was a very brave princess: "she's not a princess, she's a sailor!" Which is officially way cooler.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:28 AM on November 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


Spouse and I took two tweens to see this instead of Fantastic Beasts and we all agree it was the right choice. The songs were great fun and we were all excited to hear Lin-Manuel Miranda in a couple of songs. My favorite part of the movie is "Shiny" because it's such a Bowie-esque song and the visuals play to it so well.
posted by mogget at 9:43 AM on November 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


After I returned from the theater last night, I immediately went ahead and got the soundtrack, and doing laundry while doing a boogie to "You're Welcome" is great fun and hightly advised.

I freaking loved Moana. She's such a great character--I loved seeing her growth over the course of the film.
posted by PearlRose at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think, in terms of overall quality, both in story and in song, this is the best Disney animated movie ever made.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


"... did you like the song?"
posted by leotrotsky at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


"When John Musker and Ron Clements told Disney Animation chief John Lasseter that they were interested in creating a new story based on the Polynesian demi-god Maui, Lasseter had one response: “Go research.”

"Musker and Clements’s 2011 trip to Polynesia, the first of many, led to the birth of what they would later name the Oceanic Trust. Consisting of a group of anthropologists, cultural practitioners, historians, linguists, and choreographers from islands including Samoa, Tahiti, Mo’orea, and Fiji, this group was integral in shaping some of the finest details of Moana, from character design to song lyrics.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


We had a great time. The kiddo, in his usual way, got really freaked out and wanted to leave when there was interpersonal family drama early on, but was perfectly happy watching creepy Polynesian monsters. He deemed it The Best Movie Ever in the end, and the adults didn't feel left out of the fun at any time. I hope there is a short about that chicken going on an improbable adventure.

I felt like Moana's design might have taken a page from the second Avatar series, with the natural gait, bigger build, and terrific athleticism of the main characters. Moana did some swinging-on ropes tricks that made me squee. My husband, who has been practicing knot-tying for an upcoming exam, practiced Maui's little swinging-rope knot this evening.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:28 PM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


As we go to the theaters, I hope we will make a conscious choice for just one time, as I know many of us will see it multiple times, to transcend being mindless consumers and become resisting spectators, and recognize that the eye candy we see on the big screen are really just surface, readily accessible manifestations of deep cultural treasures that Disney, nor any outsider, can never touch.

These treasures can only be felt by the heart and by our own lived experiences. And when we see the character of Moana overcoming great odds on the big screen to save her village, even at the risk of losing her own life, we aren’t witnessing anything new that we don’t already know about ourselves — love, sacrifice, determination, resilience, family, reciprocity, conservation and stewardship of the planet are the hallmarks of our rich oceanic culture, values that have existed long before Disney mined our stories, values that can never be replicated in box office ticket and merchandise sales.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:35 PM on November 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


I liked this a lot. I really got a kick out of the crab's weird mutterings about how Moana had tricked him with bioluminescent paint and a barnacle, for whatever reason.

Some of the other adults in the theater seemed bored, which I didn't understand. Moana was athletic and willing to take risks and pretty much perfect. If only we could fix our beleaguered world by returning the stolen heart of a goddess, though.
posted by minsies at 9:56 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Loved loved loved it!! Just got home.... the story, the music, everything! You cannot take your eyes off the animation. The roundness of their shoulders is just amazing. The bodies of the characters look real and so beautiful! Great movie!! Go see it now!!
posted by pearlybob at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2016


OK, I cried. I have long ago stopped making excuses about onion ninjas. When the very first chords of the music came up, I remembered how many excited tweets Lin-Manuel had posted about making the movie, in a better and more hopeful world, and I just choked right the hell up. And when "We Know the Way" began? I was just grateful for the big 3D glasses hiding my tears. I am not Polynesian, but the ocean means so much to me and I don't know when I'll see it again.

The story had some tough emotional beats that a Disney movie wouldn't have hit 25 years ago, but it's true that the kids' fantasy "chosen one" narrative isn't much altered. Still, it's very good that pairing off is not a factor for Moana, either as a negative (as for Merida) or a positive motivation. (Probably a lo-fi Disney Channel sequel for that one.)

And something else I noticed, a very small thing but nonetheless good for little girls: when Moana is busy, she ties up her hair. When I was young, Disney didn't give me any terrible ideas about waiting for Prince Charming, but it did give me the impression that if I styled and behaved properly, my hair, too, would flow effortlessly behind me in auburn waves at all times. Moana's hair doesn't behave. I like that.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:08 PM on November 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


Also, this reminded me so much of Terry Pratchett's Nation, which will never be made into a movie because executives would look at it and see The Golden Compass plus Waterworld creating one giant money sink. But I hope that some teachers and librarians will suggest it to kids who were excited by this movie.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


WE WERE VOYAGERS
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:28 PM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


I felt the first chapter had some pretty severe pacing issues, and necessary tropes that were there to be gotten out of the way rather than launch the story. I also feel the pig sidekick was a failure of Checkov's Gun Principle, and having THE OCEAN as a goofy sidekick did a severe disservice to the story.

Yet, once we meet Maui, a dangerously, murderously self-absorbed demi-god who performs amazing feats to cover for his own massive insecurity - and he knows it (his tattoo is an inspired character, harkening back in a good way to Jiminy Cricket) - wow, we're off to the races! Great plot twists, tho some of them tediously telegraphed and done and overdone - on the other hand, it's likely an entry point for a lot of kids for "But he came back when I thought he wouldn't!"

Also the callback to Thor's Hammer with the fishhook is a bit much, but hey.

Finally, considering everyone with a speaking part in this movie is of Polynesian descent, and they are all amazingly talented and compelling (The Rock as Maui and Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa and Auli'i Cravalho as the lead, these folks are actual no-kidding superstars, established and establishing), this film should shut down any argument in favor of white washing. Polynesian actors, elevating and carrying a movie about Polynesian culture to the top of the box office receipts... and there aren't a lot of Polynesians. That's the complaint, isn't it? We can't find enough English-speaking actors of ability from ethnic group X, so we'll replace them with a white American attempting an accent?

Nope. Over. Done. No excuse left.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:17 PM on November 27, 2016 [21 favorites]


Recommendation on age range?
Common Sense Media gives me a 6+, that sound right?
posted by French Fry at 6:14 AM on November 28, 2016


We took our 5 year old and she was mostly okay with it, thougghvshe git scared and almost walked at some of the trailers. Probably wouldn't take a younger kid.
posted by Artw at 6:28 AM on November 28, 2016


Compared to other recent movies that I've gone to with a 5/6 year old I'd put it at the same level as Frozen and Finding Dory, and much less scary/intimidating than the Lego movie or Pete the Dragon. (My personal kid doesn't get very intimidated by action-scene scariness but gets really upset at someone breaking a rule set by a trustworthy in-movie person. We allllmost needed to leave over some mild teenager vs. parents contrariness at the beginning. YKMV.) We came in late enough to miss most of the trailers.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:01 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


We can't find enough English-speaking actors of ability from ethnic group X, so we'll replace them with a white American attempting an accent?

Nope. Over. Done. No excuse left.
Q! F! T!

Hopefully the news that Moana was the 2nd biggest Thanksgiving open EVER will bolster that argument, as well.

And I love the fact that the one white-american-dude plays the chicken! I'm OK with white-washing fowl, I guess.

Whole family went on Turkey Day (me, Mrs. Knot, and our girls aged 16 & 13), and we all loved it. Wasn't personally a huge fan of the music, but the other three think I'm nuts on that point.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:49 AM on November 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Finally saw it yesterday, and what a gorgeous film.

The animation in Moana has to be the best that Disney Animation has put out ever in the CGI spectrum, from the bone structure/frame of the characters to their skin, and of course, the lighting in general was amazing. The contrast of the 3D characters against the 2D animation when Maui was singing "You're Welcome," reminded me of those old classic Disney films when live actors would be cast against an animated background. I saw the movie in 2D, but now I may have to convince my family to go see it in 3D when I visit. I gotta believe it'd be super immersive.

Beyond the mechanics, Moana was definitely a good film. Moana, herself, is a great character. I liked how she doesn't run away from her future responsibilities as the next chief, but that helps to channel her urge to set out on the ocean. Maui, I liked, but thought his last minute return was missing a moment of self-reflection. We have to accept that he changed his mind after he flew away, rather than getting to see the character come to that decision. Perhaps it would have hurt the flow of the film or maybe it was simply decided his surprise return was worth the surprise.

Also, congratulations to Moana's parents, you lived! Yes, the grandmother died, but she got to return as a Force ghost, so it worked out.

The music. Gosh, I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite wiggle into my subconscious like it has a lot of other people. I need to listen to it again, but Lin Manuel's voice and style definitely floated up at times (not a bad thing - but I was distracted by going, "Oh, huh, I bet Lin worked on that one!").

In terms of Oscars, I'm willing to bet that Moana wins the animation category, which will have a number of great films in it, such as Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings. Kubo, I actually thought is the best film, but I don't think it stands much of a chance against the beautiful and more than rock solid Moana.
posted by Atreides at 7:52 AM on November 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


it's true that the kids' fantasy "chosen one" narrative isn't much altered.

I was a bit uncomfortable with this at the start, but I think it's worth noting that, ultimately, the reason she's The Chosen One is that she chooses to do it! In her moment of doubt, she gives the heart back to the ocean, and the ocean accepts it. Then, when she gets her nerve up, it's not that the ocean brings the heart back to her... Instead, she jumps into the water to find it herself.

I thought it was a pretty good response to how The Chosen One narratives go.
posted by meese at 8:06 AM on November 28, 2016 [14 favorites]


You're welcome.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


And I love the fact that the one white-american-dude plays the chicken!

there is this hysterical clip somewhere on Youtube of Alan Tudyk recording the "voice" of Heihei - you see him standing in front of a mike, then there's about ten-fifteen seconds of him clucking. Then - at some point he stops, blinks, looks at someone off camera and says, "....I went to Julliard."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on November 28, 2016 [29 favorites]


I was so happy to see a Disney movie where I didn't cry at all. I might have gotten a tiny bit misty when grandmother comes back, but it was really a fun, joyful afternoon.

In terms of Oscars, I'm willing to bet that Moana wins the animation category, which will have a number of great films in it, such as Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings.

I'm curious about which song will win. I would love to see the ensemble perform "We Know the Way."
posted by gladly at 1:23 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Alan Tudyk chicken clip that EmpressCallipygos mentioned, 'cause I had to go find it.
posted by straw at 1:40 PM on November 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


So much about this movie was just... almost overwhelmingly good. But when it hit the point where Moana realized who Te Ka was, I basically burst into tears in the theater, and it's hard for me to articulate why. I think after I'd had a little time to let it sink in, part of it is that not only is this a Disney movie without a love interest, this is a Disney movie in which the first two antagonists are escaped, not destroyed--and the third ends in not vanquishing but reconciliation. It was incredibly satisfying.
posted by Sequence at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2016 [28 favorites]


Atreides, I agree that of Moana, Zootopia, and Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo is by far the best film. I think it's more beautiful than Moana too (that origami manipulation!), although I think Moana is plenty beautiful.
posted by minsies at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I basically burst into tears in the theater, and it's hard for me to articulate why

Per Gene Wolfe's formulation...we don't cry when we're shown things that are sad, we cry we are shown things that are good. In this case...the insight necessary to realize that OF COURSE there's a link between the goddess who lifted the first islands from the sea and an apparent volcano spirit. How could it be otherwise? And along with that insight comes the realization that there is no monster to be beaten, but a wrong to be rectified instead.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:31 PM on November 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


I have a very important question for anyone who saw the movie: does the song "Hawaiian Superman" play during the credits?
posted by tobascodagama at 5:33 PM on November 28, 2016


On these points, I feel like it's basically continuing things that were started in Frozen. Although Frozen had designated love interests for both of its princesses, neither of them really worked out. The natural progression from that point is dispensing with the romance plot entirely.

And as for reconciliation? I've said before that one of the striking things about Frozen is that it's not mainly about rescuing a princess from a villain, it's about rescuing a princess from becoming a villain. Te Fiti is simply further along in that process when the reconciliation occurs.
posted by baf at 5:50 PM on November 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Awesome movie, great songs, love that the only real villains are the Kakamora and the crab Tamatoa, love that everyone assumes Moana will be powerful and the only question is how, love that there's no romance, love the grandmother-granddaughter relationship, loved the animation style virtuosity especially in "You're Welcome". And I'm a brown woman (of South Indian descent, not Polynesian) and it was so wonderful to see this film completely filled with people who look more like me.

everyone with a speaking part in this movie is of Polynesian descent
posted by Slap*Happy


I DID NOT KNOW THAT and wow! So great!

Via the Wikipedia article: I knew it! The Kakamora sequence is an intentional Mad Max: Fury Road reference! I wonder whether the bits where Maui turns into a whale that falls from the sky into the ocean are intentional references to Hitchhiker's Guide.

Miranda tweets: "Consider The Coconut--that time I tipped a hat to David Foster Wallace in a Disney movie! #Moana" (This featurette shows you the moment he finds out his vocals will be in the film -- I noticed his voice in the "We Know The Way" finale. And the version of "You're Welcome" that plays during the credits includes Miranda rapping and that was so much fun for me to hear.)

Lots of interesting & fun links in the post on the blue, including songs.

My spouse pointed out that the very first thing Moana does is pass the Voight-Kampff test. Also that the history of Polynesian seafaring is similar in some ways to the history of human space exploration. I think one awesome thing about Moana is that it's about exploration without being about imperialism.

How many of these animated kids' movies recently have framed the main quest as primarily about restoring ecological balance and saving the natural environment?
posted by brainwane at 5:32 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]




Also that the history of Polynesian seafaring is similar in some ways to the history of human space exploration.

I feel like one of the things that gets me about this is that sense of exploration... I'm not Polynesian and I don't feel like it's my history personally, but it's like discovering that your good friends did something very amazing and now I want everybody to know about it. We can't be them and we don't own their history, but we can learn from the things they did right and try to emulate their admirable qualities in our lives and futures.
posted by Sequence at 10:23 AM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


My spouse pointed out that the very first thing Moana does is pass the Voight-Kampff test.

That would make for a very different movie, tho not one necessarily less entertaining.

"She's not a replicant, but that big bruiser with the shampoo habit she's towing around? The machine started reading "Demi-God" after he answered the tortoise question with a story about the time he pulled up an island from the bottom of the sea with a magic fishhook."

(Bechdel Test? Powered through it like it was single-ply toilet-paper.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:14 PM on November 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm seeing this tomorrow morning, hooray! My little brother saw it yesterday, and reports "I think one of the coolest things about it is the fact that Moana, as the daughter of the chief is being lectured for wanting to sail, rather than become the next chief herself, rather than marry the guy who will be chief. It was a nice touch, and they didn't make a big deal about it either way." Which speaks well for my little brother, and also Disney making good choices!
posted by ChuraChura at 9:18 AM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


He also says: "I dunno, that movie definitely hit me in way more emotional areas than I expected an animated movie about polynesian demigods and female empowerment to. Moana is definitely the disney character I can identify with the most. She loves the sea, and boats as much as I do. Also, she didn't want to be a leader, she wanted to do her own thing. I didn't want to be an officer, but all of the NCOs I knew pushed me to be one, because they wanted someone like me as their officer. I grew to love it, but I still sometimes wish I could just be an enlisted guy, medic or corpsman or suchlike. That being said, I challenge you to sing how far I'll go, or Know who you are without feeling tugs at your heartstrings." He predicts that you will see videos of Military Guys singing "How Far I'll Go" enthusiastically in the same vein as the Marines singing Let It Go.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Some of the other adults in the theater seemed bored, which I didn't understand.

I thought they could have made it 30 minutes shorter without hurting the story. Otherwise, I enjoyed it, especially the crab's homage to David Bowie. And of course the animation was stunning.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:59 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Saw it tonight, so much to love. I hope this gets kids sailing.

My husband, who has been practicing knot-tying for an upcoming exam, practiced Maui's little swinging-rope knot this evening.

Is it a tugboat bowline? It looked like it, but it went by so fast.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 PM on December 2, 2016


From this previous post about traditional Polynesian navigation: nice page about star lines in Hawaiian navigation - includes a section about the movement of the constellation called Maui's fishhook (Ka Makau Nui o Māui), which pulls the fish of the Milky Way behind it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:53 PM on December 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is now my favourite Disney movie. My daughter is 4.5 and loved it too. Beautiful.
posted by Theta States at 10:53 AM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


My kid is 3.5 and this was our first trip to a movie theater and he loved it! When Te Fiti and Moana nuzzle each other, he said, "That lady loves her!"

The sailing stuff was FAN. TAS. TIC. Oh, so lovely. And so much just joy and confidence and competence in those sailing folks on their sea boats!

I could definitely feel Lin-Manuel Miranda's flavor in those songs!

The shiny crab very much reminded me of Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and also Glam Bowie a la Velvet Goldmine.

And the Kakamora scene was totally Mad Max: Fury Road-esque! I almost expected flame throwing guitars to come out of those boats! I was sad that there weren't MORE Kakamora in the movie.

Above commenter didn't like the Sea wave being a character, but it was one of my kiddo's favorite humorous parts.

The pig and the rooster are traditionally sailors' symbols, as explained on this sailor's tattoo guide by Lucy Bellwood. I really liked all of the sailing details they had.
posted by jillithd at 12:44 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Moana writers Q&A (podcast)
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2016


Just got back from taking the girls and oh goodness I really really loved this movie. Big call, but it's my favourite cg Disney feature - which isn't too surprising I guess as it shares directors with my all time favourite Disney movie, Aladdin.

Seriously there is so much to love, cast and characterisation was terrific. Songs were quite good, a couple were excellent (still miss that ashman / mencken magic but it's never coming back).

The animation was sublime, I just loved it.

And it has a great message, delivered in a great way. I just love what Disney did with its princess in this movie and the way it highlights this awesome culture.

Honestly, I was wrangling a five and two year old, and it was still the best time I had at the movies in 2016. I hope it makes a jillion bucks, cause I want more things like this to experience with my daughters.
posted by smoke at 7:03 PM on December 28, 2016


Finally saw this yesterday. Was expecting it to be Brave on the South Pacific, was really happy that it lived up to the hype instead. Just beautiful, and I cried a couple of times - especially when that brief moment her mom helped her pack her provisions. My whole childhood, animated movies were about how you survive without your mom. Finally something that shows that even when she can't be with you, and the story's not about her, she tangibly has your back. I didn't realize how much I hungered for a scene like that until I saw it. The only thing Disney ever did that approached it that I can recall was this scene in Dumbo, but that was sob-inducing for other reasons.
posted by Mchelly at 8:59 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Loved this movie. The only thing I didn't understand is why everyone sailed away from Motunui at the end. Hadn't Moana saved the Motunuians by restoring Te Fiti's heart? If the coconuts and fish come back (as presaged by the returning of color to parts of the island), why would they abandon their home?
posted by grouse at 2:05 PM on January 29


I thi I it's more that they get to explore new places too, being voyagers again.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Sure, but it looked like the entire island was on that flotilla.
posted by grouse at 4:50 PM on January 29


They'd been on the same island for centuries with no travel, and now the deities said they could safely travel to see long lost relatives. Everyone got on board, but they're not migrating, they're basically trading/exploring.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:05 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


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