Most of us would agree that living along the South Pacific Islands, with all of those sandy beaches, gentle breezes, and clear surrounding waters would be the ultimate dream come true. Perhaps that is one of several reasons why Disney’s animated computer hit Moana from 2016 remains in a consistent standing as one of the top streaming picks on Disney+.
A story set in a tropical climate plus a world-saving theme? No wonder it’s proven to be such a timeless hit and a new Disney classic. With its uniquely epic storyline, callouts in originality, the act of selflessly doing what’s right, and all those upbeat musical numbers, Moana boasts all the right stuff to make for the perfect, mutually appealing watch for the whole family any time of year — and that is why we are recommending it for this weekend’s family movie night pick.
The plot for the film follows the titular character of Moana, a young girl growing up on an island in the South Pacific. As the daughter of her island’s village chief, Moana knows that it is her duty to one day assume control as ruler and caretaker of the people living on her island. Still, she’s always had a lifelong desire to explore the waters beyond — almost as though they call to her.
Her overprotective father, however, has qualms about letting anyone, let alone his own daughter, go beyond the reefs. Moana is resigned to living her life dutifully on the island, despite those inner yearnings.
There is an ancient legend passed down through the village by Moana’s grandmother about the Mother Island Te Fiti and how a shape-shifting demigod named Maui stole her heart away from her. As a result, she transformed into the lava demon Te Kā, bent on destroying the world. What’s more, Maui ended up losing the Heart in the abysmal waves of the ocean.
Without her heart, the destructive nature of Te Kā will only continue increasing in magnitude until all of the planet’s natural resources eventually die out and the world, and all of its people, are no more. But legend also tells that there will be one, chosen by the ocean specifically, who will go bravely and boldly out to find Maui and get him to restore the heart of Te Fiti. And it would appear that Moana is the ocean’s chosen hero, evidenced by being given a strange green stone (the very heart of Te Fiti) from the waves of the ocean personally as a token.
While the island that Moana and her people inhabit has gone largely unaffected up until this point, the signs are all around them that crops are beginning to fail, the fishing sources are growing scarce, and it just may be in everyone’s best interest to go beyond the drawn limits of the island set by Moana’s father. But he will have none of that.
Still, Moana returns to her ever-present, suppressed desires to go out beyond the limits. As a caring ruler, it will be her duty to do what is best for everyone, even if it goes against her father’s wishes, which are all founded on fear. Before she dies, Moana’s grandmother also reveals to her that their people were once voyagers who ceased exploring after the whole Maui heart-stealing fiasco.
After being sure that the ocean chose her for the portended mission at hand, Moana sets out to the said location where Maui can be found to get him to restore the heart she has in her possession to Te Fiti. In doing so, together she and Maui will ultimately save the world.
The Delightfulness of Deviations
There is a very enticing antithesis from convention at work in this film in regards to its many different character incorporations. Not only do you get a diverse makeup of different character interactions in general, but you also get to see a menagerie of individuals who tend to go against the grain.
We already established that Moana is a very unique character who stands out from the rest in the fact that she was chosen specifically by the ocean to fulfill a world-saving quest. She’s also deeply bonded with her grandmother, who is alluded to on more than one occasion for being different from others in the village.
Then you have Maui — a very misunderstood demigod who is at first perceived as being the cause of all the problems. As the plot progresses, we learn that his intentions were to help, not harm the world. We also discover his rather sad backstory.
On a lesser note, you can also say that the choice of animal companions featured in this film does deviate a bit from what you would have expected. A pig and a chicken are definitely not conventional picks for common pets, but are undeniably adorable additions just the same.
Disobeying Without Misbehaving
There are many different internal moral conflicts driving the movie Moana along. In contrast to instances from other Disney films when characters have disobeyed a parent for purely willful reasons (like the way Ariel does in The Little Mermaid), Moana’s disobedience of her father’s wishes not to venture beyond the island’s set limits is different.
Her decision is born out of a desire for doing a greater good that the whole world will benefit from. The act of doing what’s wrong for the right reasons is never wrong; in fact, it’s actually heroic. And we can’t really say what she did was full-fledged disobedience, as she clearly had the blessing of both her grandmother as well as her mother before setting out. Then, in the end, it’s obvious that her father was not angry with her for what she did.
We also touched on the misguided intentions Maui had for stealing the heart of Te Fiti in the first place. And while all did not go as planned, his intentions for wanting to bestow mankind with blessings rather than curses were arguably honorable, in an odd sort of way.
Catchy Musical Numbers
One of the things we all love best about so many Walt Disney Animation movies is the timeless tradition of incorporating musical numbers into the mix. And the fact that so many featured songs from Disney movies have gone on to be classics is proof of the success of such inclusions.
Moana not only upholds this tradition but takes it to a whole other level. In fact, there’s something to be said about every single one of the musical numbers featured in the film — a feat that even some of the most beloved Disney films can’t honestly take credit for. Each song carries a unique rhythm, a witty beat, and just flows in a very catchy fashion.
From the film’s signature song “How Far I’ll Go” to Maui’s fun “You’re Welcome” number, and even Tamatoa’s “Shiny” melody, all of the music in Moana has the potential to be counted as top classics by Disney.
A Very Warming Vibe!
By watching Moana you get to experience the warm, tropical weather year-round, whenever you want. And aside from its South Pacific setting, the film in general emits a very heartwarming theme. It just gives you the urge to hit the beach, maybe catch a wave, and soak in the sun’s rays.
Despite being an animated work, there truly is something exotically appealing about the movie Moana. It is a charming watch that can be enjoyed by every member of your family. So, gather around, pop up some popcorn, and set sail into adventure with this wonderful weekend pick on Disney+.