Yes, I am a grown man. Yes, I have actually seen “Moana” more times than the average person. No, I don’t have a child forcing me to watch Disney cartoons; it’s just a great movie.
Every so often, I will come across an animated movie that I don’t mind watching over and over again until it gets old. “Moana” is certainly one of those movies, only I haven’t become sick of it, and I don’t think I ever will.
That’s because I believe that “Moana” is one of the first Disney movies in a long time that is not only entertaining, but also brilliantly put together. The movie diverges from the famous film company’s long-standing tendency to whitewash portrayals of ethnic culture and maintain a generic, two-dimensional female character. That alone should be enough to convince you to watch the movie. It doesn’t hurt that the music is pretty damn good too, which leads me to my first point.
1. The Songs Are Awesome
You of course know how Disney will create a soundtrack with a couple of songs that seem to get stuck in your head, latch on and never let go (pun very much intended).That’s usually all fine and fun for a little while after the release of the movie, but then a month goes by and “Let it Go” is still echoing in your ears after your little cousin sang that one line for hours at your last family gathering. Needless to say, the peppy chorus of Disney princesses can sometimes test your insanity.
“Moana,” on the other hand, has one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard from a Disney movie. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the very same writer of the “Hamilton” score, composed much of the soundtrack for “Moana,” and if you know anything about his music, it’s that it never disappoints.
Every single song in “Moana” is heartfelt and engaging, which makes it okay for them to be stuck in your head for days on end. Trust me, they will stick with you, but you won’t mind too much. I will always belt out “How Far I’ll Go” no matter how many times I watch the movie.
2. There’s a Strong Female Lead
I mentioned before that “Moana” differs from many other Disney movies on the female character front. Disney typically creates a cookie cutter princess whose purpose is to find (or be found) by a prince in a tale as old as time that the franchise seems to tell over and over again. One of the more refreshing elements of “Moana” is the fact that there is no love interest at all.
Even the simple absence of a romance makes the movie stand out among most Disney flicks, but that’s just one small thing that makes Moana such a great character. In the beginning of the movie, Moana discovers her deep connection with the ocean, and as she grows up, that relationship is further realized and fostered despite her father’s restraint. But after discovering that her home island is wilting away, she makes the brave decision to go beyond the reef, defying the tradition of the chiefs in order to save her home. There’s no time (or need) along her journey for Moana to go looking for love.
There are most definitely rough seas along the way to saving the world, but Moana’s strength and perseverance shine through amidst the storms and supernatural battles including but not limited to: evil coconuts, a giant lava monster/goddess and a rather vain crab.
3. The Perfect Amount of Comic Relief
As I’ve portrayed it so far, “Moana” seems like a pretty intense movie — which it is. It’s a story that follows a young girl who sails away from home with no experience and teams up with a big-headed demigod to restore balance to the universe. I’m not gonna lie, it’s dramatic and especially stressful at some points — but then there’s Hei Hei the chicken.
Everyone loves a Disney animal sidekick, and I would say that Hei Hei is my favorite. This dumb, skinny little chicken appears to operate solely on brainstem function, and I absolutely love him. He can’t do much, not even eat correctly. When you watch the movie you will see him attempting to consume a rock bigger than his head and carelessly walking off the edge of Moana’s canoe into the ocean.
His existence in the movie seems a bit ridiculous at first, but after laughing at the antics of this dim-witted chicken, you will realize how important Hei Hei is. It’s important to be able to laugh in a movie so dramatic as “Moana,” because otherwise it would just be an intense epic without the light silliness of a Disney cartoon.
4. The Movie Is Appropriately Casted
I know, I know. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is Maui, but that’s not what I’m talking about. As I briefly mentioned earlier, Disney typically whitewashes depictions of different cultures and ethnicities. Take “Aladdin” as just one example.
Disney breaks this tendency quite drastically in “Moana” by actually casting non-white actors to voice over non-white characters, which is even more refreshing when you consider Moana’s strong character. If you scroll through the movie’s cast on IMDb,you’ll see that most actors are from many different cultural backgrounds that include the different groups of Pacific islands.
This undoubtedly creates authenticity in the voices of the characters in “Moana” while also providing more appropriate voice actors with a crucial role in the making of the movie.
So, after all this I hope you can understand why I’ve watched this movie 11 times — actually, I’m sure I’ve seen it way more times than that, I just don’t want to scare you with a more precise number. I dread the day that Netflix takes it off their movie list, though I would probably just buy a real copy for myself.
If you haven’t seen “Moana” yet, you should probably get on that soon. You’ll laugh, cry and maybe even catch yourself singing along to some great songs along the way.
Just make sure to appreciate what makes this movie stand out.