With the opening of Moana the viewer is immediately thrown into a hybrid story of Polynesian mythology and creation, which goes a bit to explain who the main gods are for the rest of the story. All of this is narrated by a woman’s voice who turns out to be a grandmother teaching young village kids on an island. All of the kids seem afraid of the ocean and what represents based on the story, except one: Moana.
The stage is set as a viewer sees Moana grow a bit older, and then her village is faced with a calamity of failing crops and loss of food sources. While the situation is starting to seem bleak, Moana has hope, even if it means going to the very ocean that everyone is afraid of. Despite her parents trying to dampen the idea of going to the ocean, Moana discovers her true path, her heritage, and that her Grandmother always knew Moana was chosen for something special – that being to help save the world spirit’s illness which is causing the famine.
As Moana begins her adventure, she finds herself facing the very character that caused a great amount of trouble. But he’s more complex than just being a simple bad guy to be defeated or outsmarted. And in that ongoing interaction Moana realizes her true path is to save the world as she knows it. She is challenged down to her deepest core, and that makes the film both a film with some depth for adults as well as a lesson in personal strength and confidence for kids. In some respects, the story line might be a bit long for kids, but being a cartoon most will just stick with it until the final penultimate challenge scene. That’s the typical Disney script. Is the film an Oscar? No, but the matinee version might be worth a visit with the kids on a cold Sunday when the weather is cruddy outside.