2016, Walt Disney Animation

Ron Clements
John Musker
Osnat Shurer
Ron Clements (story)
John Musker (story)
Chris Williams (story)
Don Hall (story)
Pamela Ribon (story)
Aaron Kandell (story)
Jordan Kandell (story)
Jared Bush (screenplay)
Jeff Draheim

Auli’I Cravalho (Moana)
Dwayne Johnson (Maui)
Rachel House (Gramma Tala)
Temeura Morrison (Chief Tui)
Jemaine Clement (Tamatoa)
Nicole Scherzinger (Sina)
Alan Tudyk (Heihei/Villager #3)

Disney’s latest animated film is quite a wild and hilarious ride with the newest Princess, or in this case, Chief Moana.

A millennium ago, the Heart of Te Fiti was stolen by the demi-god Maui as a gift to humanity. As a result, the lava monster Te Ka has unleashed its wrath and as a result, Maui was exiled to an abandoned island. Moana is the daughter of Chief Tui of Motunui. Since being a toddler, she has dreamed of seeing life beyond the reef, which is considered forbidden by Tui. However, when the fish have disappeared and the coconuts are beginning to spoil, Moana tries to find answers.

Moana soon learns both why her father forbids the voyage beyond the reef as well learning a family secret. Having no other alternative, Moana decides to follow her heart and find her calling. Assigned to find Maui and return the Heart of Te Fiti, Moana becomes a voyager. However, she learns it will not be an easy journey when she first must find Maui, who still will not let go of his past deeds and fame. However, Maui and Moana must learn from each other if they want to save the island of Motunui.

Disney’s latest animated feature is a fun and wild ride that meshes the buddy comedy, the long epic journey, and the Disney musical. Directed by the team of Ron Clements and John Musker, the duo behind the hit Princess and the Frog, this is their first look at the world of Polynesian culture and with the help of experts and a cast mainly based off in the South Pacific area, this is perhaps one of Disney’s best animated films to date.

The driving forces of the film are truly the voices of newcomer Auli’I Cravalho and “The People’s Champ” Dwayne Johnson as the titular character and the demi-god Maui who goes from the arrogant pompous demi-god to a return to his glory for the right reasons. Interestingly, it is their comic chemistry and lessons they learn from each other that drive the film. However, Jemaine Clement highlights his voice as a treasure-collection crab who sings the David Bowie-esque “Shiny” plus New Zealand actor Temeura Morrison makes the most of his role as Chief Tui, Moana’s father who wants her to take over as Chief but under his conditions and not her own.

The soundtrack, by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda with the help of Opetaia Foa’I and Mark Mancina, is quite a hoot. Of course, the repetition of Moana’s theme song gets old after a while, but aside from Clement’s “Shiny”, we get to hear Dwayne Johnson unleashing his singing power on his song “You’re Welcome”, which is quite fun to hear.

It is safe to say that Moana is truly a fun and wild ride that is one of Disney’s best animated films to date. If you have not seen the film yet, then it is time to check this film out as soon as possible.