The movie of the year sailed onto our shores this past Boxing Day. Moana tells the story of the eponymous heroine (NOT Princess) and demi-god Maui as they journey across the ocean on an epic adventure. From the makers of Disney classics “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin," Moana sets a new standard of quality for Disney movies with many going back for a second viewing. So, we’ve compiled a list of nine reasons (one for each time we’ve seen it) of why Moana is pretty much the best movie to ever grace our screens.
1. She Is NOT A Princess
Not only does Moana make it clear that she is NOT a princess (daughter of the village chief), she’s the most badass heroine we’ve seen in a while. She smashes any expectations of your typical heroine— swimming, jumping, leaping, sailing and even wayfinding. Not only does she do it all, Disney’s paid careful consideration to flesh out the character, infusing just the right amount of teen angst with heroic determination so there’s something in Moana’s characters for everyone.
2. It Takes You Back To Your School Days (In A Good Way)
The movie takes you back to your primary school days, hearing about Maui’s various adventures. Intricately woven into song and illustration, the careful placement of Easter eggs throughout the movie will give you plenty of “IS THAT THE THING?!” moments.
3. It’s Basically Made In New Zealand
Us Kiwis are back at it again showing Hollywood how it’s done! The local legend who needs no introduction, Taika Waititi was a heavy influence in the early stages of production, naming many central characters and giving the movie its vibrant visual direction. Kiwis also played key roles in the film starring Jemaine Clement as the villainous crustacean Tamatoa, Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui Waialiki (aka Moana’s father) and Whangarei local Rachel House as favourite Gramma Tala Waialiki, easily one of the highlights of the film.
4. The Soundtrack
Forget “A Whole New World”, “Circle Of Life” and “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?”—seriously it’s time to let them go. Moana serves up some of the freshest tunes we’ve heard in a Disney movie in years! The power balled “How Far I’ll Go” depicting Moana’s yearning towards the sea is so addictive you’ll find yourself blasting it while giving the performance of your life in the shower. Frankly, it kicks “Let It Go’s” ass. Polynesian culture is infused throughout the soundtrack featuring Polynesian vocals, percussion, Tokelauan lyrics from Samoan-born Opetaia Foa'i of local vocalist group Te Vaka. And we can’t forget the catchy “You’re Welcome” from Dwayne Johnson, giving you the egotistical anthem you didn't know you needed.
5. The Sass
Moana serves up real talk with a hefty side of attitude, from being the first Disney character EVER to come close to swearing to fast-paced backchat from Maui as he kicks her off the boat (repeatedly). The humour throughout the movie is reminiscent of that familiar Polynesian humour we know and love. With every character vibrantly bouncing of each other, there’s never a dull moment.
6. The Environment
The movie stays true to its oceanic roots showcasing the breathtaking island scenes and crystal clear water. The directors Ron Clements and John Musker noted the environment was a huge factor in the conception of the film noting Polynesian cultures close relationship to nature. The attention to detail and respect to culture is evident in the films treatment of the environment—even the ocean springs to life and takes on a personality of its own!
7. The Nostalgia
Remember the good times when you’d go to see a new Disney movie and the theatre with a big bucket of extra buttery popcorn and a double scoop choc top? You’d hear the songs for the first time and get totally immersed into this completely new magical world where anything seems possible. Well Moana brings back that Disney magic bigger and better than ever. You’ll laugh through the hilarious opening short, cry when things are looking glum, and cheer when Moana sets sail on to the ocean.
8. The Damn Rooster
It’s impossible not to fall in love with the hopelessly stupid Heihei, Moana’s pet rooster who is literally the most useless but loveable sidekick in a Disney movie to date. Described by creators as “the dumbest character in the history of Disney animation” he doesn’t play too much of an important role in terms of the plot. However, as hopeless as he is, he brings a new unforgettable element to the Disney universe—that is, of utter hilarious stupidity.
9. All The Feels
Of course, it wouldn't be a Disney movie if it didn't hit us right in the feels. You’ll leave the theatre with an urge to book the latest Grabaseat deal out to the islands, fact-checking your Maui stories from back in the day and taking that weekend off work to restore the heart back to your Te Fiti. Heck, you might even feel like being an island heroine (NOT princess) singing “How Far I’ll Go” standing in the middle of Mission Bay. Disney has given us a standard setting classic in Moana, one we won’t be forgetting for quite some time.