Moana is the well-told tale of a 16-year old girl living on an island in the South Seas. From the time she was a toddler, Moana is drawn to the sea. She can’t avoid its irresistible call.
Her island is a paradise, but one day, it starts to die and Moana is chosen by the sea to save it and the rest of the world from destruction. Against her parents wishes, Moana sets sail with the demigod Maui. He’s the one who caused the problem in the first place.
This is the first music-focused flick Disney has done since Frozen, and it sails the same seas as the uber popular The Little Mermaid. It’s co-directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who did Mermaid and Aladdin. They pack their plot with Broadway-worthy tunes.
Moana’s part is played by 16-year old Auli’ i Cravalho, who 2 years ago was a high school freshman. She’s a great singer and has fun voicing Moana. Dwayne Johnson gives voice and personality to the egocentric Maui and is — let’s say — a competent singer. Though this is animated and the two actors spent little time working together, the chemistry is amazing.
So is the animation that punctuates Jared Bush’s terrific (Zootopia) screenplay based on the story ideas of seven collaborators. Usually that’s a recipe for disaster, but somehow Clement and Musker pull it off.
Moana is kid- and adult-friendly, and is the most fun you’ll have in a theater this Thanksgiving weekend.
Director: Ron Clement, John Musker
Stars: Auli’ i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Pasco and Queensgate 12s, Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.