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Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

Disney’s newest animated film, Moana, swims into theatres November 23, 2016. It is the perfect movie to enjoy as a family during Thanksgiving weekend.

Moana tells the story of a little girl who has a very special connection to the ocean. She has felt it from the time she was a toddler. As she grows the connection only grows deeper; however her father is Chief Tui of the village and forbids her to go beyond the reef.

Gramma Tala and Moana

Gramma Tala guides Moana as she grows, teaching her the ways of their people. She likes to dance near the water’s edge sharing a beautiful story of nature and animals.

When the food supply is threatened, Gramma Tala helps Moana discover what their history is about and the one secret that has been kept from her. What begins next is a journey to discover who she is meant to be.

Moana voiced by Auli'i Cravalho

Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho plays the title character, Moana. She was the hardest person to cast for Disney, as their search took months to find the right one. Cravalho plays Moana perfectly and shows no signs of being new to voice acting. While this is the first we have heard from her, it will certainly not be the last. She has a brilliant future ahead of her.

Maui voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson

It is difficult to not smile when you hear the demigod Maui speak. Behind the animated character filled with strength is the heart of a man we have seen in many movies. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is continuing to claim the hearts of women as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2016 while also appealing to children in Moana.

The Rock’s ability to capture hearts onscreen was easily accomplished in Race to Witch Mountain and Tooth Fairy but it was his awesome display of pectoral muscles that provided much delight in Journey to the Mysterious Island. He brings those muscles again and shows them off in Moana, completely cementing that The Rock can successfully portray his humor through just his voice.

Pig and dumb chicken Heihei from Moana

A surprising character that stole the show was Heihei, known simply as the dumb rooster. Although he did not have much to say, he was voiced by Alan Tudyk who is familiar from portraying characters in Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, and Big Hero 6. He provided much laughter throughout the movie.

Moana is both a beautiful story and one that is breathtaking with the animation. There are moments where you become lost in the story and amazing visual design, only to completely forget it is animated.

The ocean is calling.

As someone who has never been to Hawaii and have only read about the Pacific Island storytelling in books, experiencing it first hand through Moana was thrilling. To finally understand the stories that are told in movement and song is one of the hidden story elements that embraces the culture and gives me an understanding never had before.

This is a beautiful family movie appealing to children and adults of all ages but one question still remains. Do we have a new Disney Princess? Maui mentions the word Princess but it is unclear if she is one. We hope she is a new Princess.

Moana and Maui

Parental Advisory: Spoiler Alert

As with any Disney movie, there has to be a death of a central figure. It just can’t be a Disney movie without it and Moana is no exception. The death does not occur on screen but it does have the most beautiful display of death ever depicted in an animated movie. The scene lasts for mere seconds but literally brought me to tears.

You do hear “Son of a ….” once.

Let’s get real about one character. Tamatoa, the crab, is a little freaky. He has a haunting voice that you just cannot get out of your head. Based upon the young children in the theatre, many did not like him. If you like the crab, stay until all the credits are finished for an additional scene. It is hilarious but skip it if the crab freaks you out.

There is one warning though. Once you see the movie, it will be very difficult to leave the theatre without desiring a trip to Hawaii soon.

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Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new feature film “Moana” is about an adventurous teenager who, with help from demigod Maui, sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and save her people.


  • Release Date: November 23, 2016
  • Rating: PG
  • Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger,  Jemaine Clement,  Alan Tudyk
  • Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
  • Producer: Osnat Shurer
  • Executive Producers: John Lasseter
  • Writers: Jared Bush
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios


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Wendy Wright

Head Geek at Plugged In Family often found at Comicon, Disneyland, or online increasing her gamer score on Xbox. As a member of the 501st Legion, Wendy spreads her love of Star Wars across the Galaxy in her handmade Jawa costume volunteering for charities with her husband and two sons.

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