Special thanks to Disney for the magical trip to Los Angeles to cover the World Premiere of Moana and its press events.
OK so you don’t have to skip Thanksgiving altogether, but at least consider making it a short meal so you have time to go to the theatre to see Moana the day it comes out, November 23rd, it really is THAT good. The fact that it’s an amazing movie should come as no surprise considering it’s from the creators of Zootopia and FROZEN, amiright?
The movie’s creation started over five years ago with the desire to spin a story based on cultural legends about Oceania and “the lost years” where the voyagers of ancient times stopped voyaging. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker (yes, the same Ron & John of Little Mermaid Fame), wanted to authentically give a voice to those years and a provide a reason that Polynesian explorers began exploring again after a thousand year hiatus. They spent weeks and weeks in different Polynesian countries working to get every piece of this puzzle right, from traditional tattoos to traditional music to traditional relationships with water and legend.
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess & the Frog) and produced by Osnat Shurer (Lifted, One Man Band), Moana sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
From the story of Maui, was born Moana, Polynesian for Ocean.
Moana is the daughter of the chief of her island, a proud Polynesian culture of people who live off the land and never go beyond the reef. She loves her people and her island, but she feels this longing that says she is destined for a life beyond the reef. The water and horizon call at her every time she sees the light glisten off the waves and she can’t quiet the voice that calls her. Fueled by her “crazy village lady” Gramma Tala’s urgings, Moana sets sail on a voyage to save her land and her people.
This is no princess love story and Moana is no damsel in distress. She is a true heroine in every sense of the word, and save a couple villains you won’t soon forget, the real things Moana must overcome are tradition, a sense of loyalty to that tradition, and belief in herself.
When Moana sets sail on her journey, she accidentally takes with her a brainless chicken named Hei-Hei (pronounced Hey-Hey). You’re not a Disney princess without an animal sidekick, after all. Hei-Hei provides some serious laughs along the way and is brought to life by the Juliard-trained actor, Alan Tudyk. He went to Juliard. To voice a chicken. It’s pretty great.
Moana’s journey happens in legs, kind of like my flights to Los Angeles, and in one of her layovers, she meets the Demigod, Maui who is known for being a trickster and a shape shifter, but adored by men…and women. Of all really. Adored by all.
Moana and Maui set out on the same journey with different goals and yet through a series of unfortunate events, well…you’ll just have to go see the movie to find out. I’m not spoiling it for anyone.
My favorite villain is Tamatoa (voiced by Jemaine Clement) in the realm of monsters. He’s a shiny, glittery, obsessive hermit crab who collects all things that glitter and sings a catchy song. He kinda likes talking about himself. It’s a pretty intense yet humorous sequence.
I love that Disney was so intentional about getting this film right and doing it in a way that gave honor to the Polynesian culture. Opetaia Foa’i, a Samoan musician contributed to the beautiful soundtrack that makes this film even more culturally beautiful, said that the ancestors would be proud of this film. For the first time in American film history, Moana is being translated into Tahitian to further pay homage to the culture.
Lending his talents to the soundtrack is my current favorite musical genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda. The songs from Moana have been stuck in my head since I first screened the film last week. Maui’s song, “You’re Welcome” is so catchy that I dare you not to sing “you’re welcome” every time you utter the words after hearing this song. Language may never be the same. order your copy of the Moana soundtrack now!
“How Far I’ll Go” will be the life anthem for many. I know that for me, an adult with children of her own, has found inspiration in the song. I’ve been more productive this morning than I have in months. And as silly as it sounds, I know I have places to go, I just have to put the work in to get there.
The film is beautifully made and even the water in the film is so spot on. It exists as background, foreground, and character and Disney did a phenomenal job on the water and all its qualities.
Before Moana begins, there is a short film called Inner Workings that anyone who has ever worked in a cube farm can completely relate to. To read more about the awesomeness that is Inner Workings, check out my review!