Hawaii is not exactly the first thing I think of when I think of Christmas movies. But it’s that time of year when my family gets to tell Santa if we’ve been naughty or nice. Spokane has a terrific set up with Santa and one of the tallest tress around at River Park Square… that just happen to be downstairs from one of the most luxurious AMC theaters I’ve ever been too (reclining leather seats!) So I may have made a point of being there around the same time that Moana was playing.
I grew up in the time of musical Disney. I have vivid memory of correcting an adult on the lyrics to Part of Your World when I was about six years old. My dance teacher produced a ballet production of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast when I was ten. And I’m pretty sure I melted into a geeky puddle of childhood joy watching Julie Taymor’s production of The Lion King in London.
What a fun movie. Moana is the story of a young girl in ancient Polynesia who feels the call of something more than her island. She is the daughter of the Chief which means she is next in line to lead her people. Though her heart longs for the ocean, she listens well to her father and does her best to be the sort of Chief he wants her to be. But after the natural resources of her home begin to run dry, she finds that the call of the ocean is not just a desire to explore but also her only hope to save her people.
The music from Tony award winning writer Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) teaming up with Mark Mancina (August Rush) and Opetaia Foa’i (Te Vaka) was just inspiring with songs like “How Far I’ll Go” and “You’re Welcome”. It's a journey of discovery in a way that only three other princesses embrace. From the very first song Moana is on a journey to discover who she truly is, even if that means challenging tradition and finding her own wind to sail.
What’s really nice about it is that it doesn’t have a huge cast of characters, most of which are played by a mix of Hawaiian, Filipino and Maori actors. And for newcomer Auli'i Cravalho, it represents the first time an age appropriate actress played the title role for a Disney Princess.
I enjoyed this film, my hyper critical husband enjoyed this film. And my three year old sat through the entire thing without a single bathroom or temper break. Not to mention it's killer opening weekend Box Office over Thanksgiving. This movie is a win in my book.