I was not emotionally prepared for this movie. I just wasn’t.
That’s not to say it’s the most moving picture I’ve ever seen, but particularly in the first thirty minutes, I couldn’t help but weep—at its occasional magnificence.
Moana revolves around its title character, a Hawaiian teen who was chosen to bring life back to the islands. Ever since a mythical stone was taken, a darkness has been creeping across the ocean, and the only way to defeat it would be to put the stone back. That sounds simple enough, right? Well, her entire community does not wish to leave its sheltered paradise, owing to the dangers of the outside world, and so Moana must go on her journey alone.
Along the way, though, she finds Maui, the demigod responsible for stealing the stone in the first place, and he serves as her sidekick. Their back-and-forth is bursting with classic wit, and even the simplest of interactions are enjoyable, but that’s not what makes it special. Here, you don’t only have a girl having a male sidekick—there isn’t a romantic plotline at all, nor does Moana have anything less than a true-to-life physique. Of course, this isn’t the first time something like this has been done, but I have to applaud the Walt Disney Company for progressing forward so effortlessly.
The animation is top-of-the-line, even though the voices take a while to sound like more than actors. The plot has a spiritual poignancy, even if it meanders a bit in the middle. Oh, and some of the songs were by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), which is what made me weep early on. Generally, any minor flaws are offset by something marvelous.
If I had to criticize something, it’s that there are two pets, a rooster and a pig, and my favorite of the two is essentially kept at home for the entire film. That was so… aggravating. Why couldn’t he come along?
Simply put, watching Moana was a downhill journey for me. I was absolutely in love with the film for the first act—completely sold—but then my interest dwindled as the story went on until I was just satisfied with it. If you come for the music and the visuals, which you should, you will not be disappointed. If you come for the story, you’ll wish you came for the music and visuals.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some songs to buy.
Moana is in theaters now. See it.