The Scenery - Let's start with the breathtaking setting for the film. Taking place throughout the beautiful Pacific islands, anyone who loves island views will fall in love with these lush tropical paradises and life on the Ocean. Moana's ancestors were experts in the ancient skill of wayfinding. As voyagers, they used the ocean currents and the stars to explore the ocean and discover new islands. The ocean calls to Moana the same way it did to those in her family before her.
Moana - Since we've already started talking about her, let's take a look at the newest Disney heroine. Moana (voice of Auli'i Cravalho) is the daughter of the island chief and is being raised to one day lead her people. She feels torn between her obligation to lead and her desire to be on the water. When difficult times fall upon her island, Moana decides it's time to take to the ocean to seek answers and find the help that her people need to survive. During the journey, she finds out just how strong she is and discovers her true identity.
Maui - Throughout the movie, Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) moves from someone who seems to be a self-absorbed Demigod to a complex character who faced difficult times as a child and is rediscovering his own courage through Moana. His dancing tattoos and musical introduction engage audiences and keep kids laughing. Here is a clip from the song "You're Welcome" to show you what I mean.
The Messages - Walking out of the theatre, there were plenty of things to talk about with my son. One of the biggest takeaways he saw in the movie was the importance of working with nature. Moana's journey is about restoring the balance in the Pacific, something that was upset years before. The movie also reminds us to be true to ourselves and never ignore that little voice in our heads. No matter how many times Moana's father told her that her place was on the island leading her people, she knew she was destined for more. By following her heart, she did more than she ever knew she could.
The Music - The songs in the movie connect both the history of the Pacific with some modern fun. There is plenty of chances to sing along for the whole family to the beautiful music. It shouldn't be any surprise that the original music is amazing with the team that created these memorable songs including Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton"), Mark Mancina ("The Lion King"), and Opetaia Foa'i (founder and lead singer of Te Vaka).
I attended the screening with my 4 year old son who loved every minute of the movie. He thought Maui was funny, Moana was brave, and the chicken was funny (just wait. . .you'll see!) Disney's Moana opens in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, Nov. 23.
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Disclosure: I attended a free screening of the film to share a review with my readers. Opinions and thoughts are always my own!