Review: ‘Moana’ Is Disney’s Best Movie In Decades

Moana is a triumphant return to form for Disney that improves upon just about everything the studio has set up through both its recent surge of Pixar-esque entertainment, as well as the musical favorites of recent years. It’s a highlight that owes much of its existence to the success of TangledWreck-It Ralph, and Frozen, though perhaps even more directly to the 90s classics younger critics like myself grew up with. Make no mistake, though, Moana is its own quirky, beautiful masterwork.

You can watch the full review above or read a transcription published here.

Grade: A+

Extra Credits:

  • The movie stars Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui. It was directed and co-written by Ron Clements, co-directed by Don Hall, John Musker, and Chris Williams, and the screenplay is by Jared Bush.
  • Ron Clements and John Musker sound familiar? They made The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules, among some other hand-drawn Disney films. This is their first feature-length computer-animated movie.
  • Original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina.
  • If Moana wins an Oscar for its music, then Miranda will be the third person ever to achieve a PEGOT (Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
  •  Moana is the first Disney princess not based on an existing fairy tale or legend, unless you count Merida from Brave as a Disney princess.
  • I didn’t cover this in the review, but Cravalho (who voices Moana) is an incredible talent for such a young age. At 14, she’s the youngest Disney Princess voice ever.
  • “Moana” means “ocean or sea” in Polynesian culture, and it’s a common word for “blue.”
  • Alan Tudyk voices the animal sidekick in this film, which is notable because this is the fifth consecutive animated Disney movie he’s worked in, starting with Wreck-It Ralph.
  • Easter eggs: The only one I managed to catch is Maui transforming into Sven, from Frozen. Also, Moana is referenced in Zootopia as a DVD called “Meona.”

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11 thoughts

  1. Aladdin’s lamp is somewhere in Moana, as is Olaf. Also, one of the tapestries in Grandmother Tala’s hut is the Marshmallow monster from Frozen. In addition, as Te Fiti is breathing life back into Motonui, you can see the golden flower from Tangled at the edge of the screen. (My sister pointed this out to me)

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