Entertainment

Disney makes more family magic with 'Moana'

Posted November 22
Updated November 25

THE OCEAN — As a child, I remember all too well heading to the theater with my parents to see the latest Disney offering. My older brother and I were all smiles as we headed into the cinema ready to behold whatever adventure awaited us.

I distinctly remember sitting in the auditorium when the lights dimmed as we prepared to watch “Beauty and the Beast.” Before the movie started, we were given a sneak peek into Disney's next animated feature, “Aladdin.” I don’t know why this struck a chord in me, but I got so excited, and from that time on, I wanted to know what great Disney feature was up next.

It felt like we had a dry spell for awhile when it came to those really amazing Disney animated features, but they’ve been on a roll lately with future classics like “Tangled,” “Frozen” and “Zootopia.”

I’m here to tell you that you can rest assured because Disney has found that magic once again with 2016’s “Moana.”

“Moana” is an adventurous tale of a young girl and her search for a mysterious island with the not-always-helpful demi-god, Maui. I don’t want to give much of the inner-workings of the plot away because that’s half the fun of the movie.

I can tell you a few things, however, that illustrate why “Moana” is another animated gem for the entire family.

It’s gorgeous

Computer animation is an ever-evolving technology and it seems with each new film that tech gets better and better. In “Moana,” there were times I was in awe as I tried to figure out if the ocean scenery I was seeing was real or fabricated. The film is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and it will make you want to travel to a tropical island as soon as the credits roll.

At times I found myself not even paying attention because I was so caught up in the scenery and looking at the incredible surroundings. So if for nothing else, go see “Moana” for its amazing visuals.

It’s poignant

If we really break down most animated Disney films, we get the same plot over and over. A young princess/prince/some kind of animal betrays his or her parents or guardians and ends up on an adventure of self-discovery that ultimately leads to the saving of one’s civilization or family or what have you. If you’re expecting something totally different from “Moana,” don’t, because that’s basically the entire plot.

Even thought it’s the same ground Disney has dredged time and time again, it still works and this particular film has a sweet message about understanding your ancestry and heritage and honoring those who went before you. It also has strong messages of including others, understanding motivations, being kind, trying new things, learning new things and utilizing the past to mold your future.

As I watched the films with my 6-year-old and 3-year-old, I found myself hoping they understood some of the underlying nuances of the film and that they also totally missed that whole “don’t listen to your parents” thing.

It’s fun

When taking your family to a movie, the main thing you hope for is that everyone will have a good time, and that includes mom and dad. Not to come down on anyone’s favorite films, but if I have to watch another “Buddies” movie, I may lose my mind. Parents don’t need to worry because there is plenty in “Moana” to keep you engaged and happy.

The film has a great amount of humor and there was one scene in particular that I won’t ruin that had my kids and me rolling on the floor. This may be because us Clyde’s have a strange personality, but there is a musical number that all three of us found hilarious. I think my wife found it funny as well, but was more embarrassed by the scene the 3, 6 and 33-year-old were making.

The movie manages to be funny, adventurous, and heartfelt at the right moments and with the right mix.

Some issues

It starts slow

While the overall film is a lot of fun, “Moana” takes a little while to get going. I didn’t really get into the film until the titular character, “Moana,” actually sets off on her adventure. But even with that said, the ensuing adventures and characters she meets, particularly Maui, are worth the slow start.

Good news/bad news

So this next part could be a glass half full or half empty thing, depending on how you want to look at it.

“Moana” has some really great songs that will force a smile onto even the most stubborn teenager, but these musical numbers will not have the staying power of the aforementioned “Frozen.”

Like I said, this could be a good news/bad news scenario. The bad news is the fact that while the songs are enjoyable, they will not having the staying power and overall resonance that the music from "Frozen" did. The good news is we’re not going to have another “Let It Go” situation on our hands where we have to endure it in our homes 24/7 for months, if not years.

OK, I’m being the cynical dad, but I’ve heard that song so many times. All I’m really trying to say is that the music is beautiful, but I wouldn’t suspect it will be sung in homes at all hours of the day and night like that other song we know all too well.

Conclusion

“Moana” is another Disney blockbuster that will become a family classic in many homes for years to come.

When it comes to content both my 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son had a great time and even the “scary” parts weren’t too much for them.

“Moana” is rated PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.

John has been writing about movies, news, sports and pretty much anything awesome for more than five years. John is the co-host of the Flix Junkies podcast and will always entertain you with his stories.

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