moanaWalt Disney Animation Studios “Moana” has been a long awaited release. The tale of a Polynesian princess and her quest to find a egocentric demi-god to save her village. Moana is Disney’s 56th animated movie and 12th princess (if you are keeping track of those things).

But let’s get to the point. If you want the short, condensed, no-spoilers/information review, I can do this in just a few words for you –

Moana is THE movie Disney fans have been waiting for.

Just go see it. See it more than once. It is that cute. And stay through the credits, because you will rejoice – there really IS something at the end! I will warn you, the credits are a bit lengthy. Do not give up. Persevere. Disney gave credit where due to quite a bit of the South Pacific, which only shows how much heart and soul research went into this movie. While I am sure there are historical and cultural inaccuracies, let’s remember that Moana is an animated feature, not a documentary.

But, let’s chat a bit more…

Simply beautiful

MOANA First Look Concept ArtIn true Disney fashion, Moana is a visually stunning movie. The colors are radiant, and the music is more than inspiring – so much that I will say you should buy the soundtrack or add it to your Spotify playlist. The visual beauty of Montanui and Oceania is relaxing and will make you want to book a stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village.

Moana as a role model


MOANA is an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Auli’I Cravalho is the voice of Moana. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

For the first time in forever, NDK walked out of the movie theater and quickly requested that we purchase anything and everything Moana. And I have to admit, I wanted everything, too. From the baby Moana doll to the HeiHei TsumTsum! In all seriousness, Moana is the princess you want your child to look up to.

Not that disproportionate animated figures bother me ( I am a classic Barbie fan), I immediately was awestruck that Moana was simply a true-to-life girl. There is no castle, no fancy dress, no super skinny, twiggy legs. Moana is a real girl that any of our girls could be. And she worked HARD in her village. She was the next in line, learning under her father. She was a leader for her village. She was a part of her village – from teaching children cultural dances to helping harvest coconuts.

The island of Montanui shares everything, including the work load.  The song, Where You Are, reinforces the value of tradition, family and teamwork. These are beautiful values you can use in discussions with your family. I love movies that send you off with such a positive, inspirational feeling.

No overbearing darkness or ugly tear-enducing moments

fun side of moana

There are many fun moments in Moana – especially with these guys! ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Lately, I will admit that I have left Disney movies feeling the need to go shopping or indulge in some sort of monstrous dessert to remove the dark cloud that surrounded me after movies. It is no secret that I am not a fan of movies that take real-feels to the level that you are sobbing and quite possibly look for a therapist the next day. For me, that is not entertainment. I see a movie to feel good. I want to laugh, I want to cry. But I want to laugh again.

Moana has that wonderful balance that classic Disney movies once had. You have a little bit of evil. You have a few teary moments. But it is all wonderfully balanced in a way that no one emotion takes over and you cannot appreciate the true story Disney is telling.

The Village Crazy Lady aka Gramma


RACHEL HOUSE (“Whale Rider,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) voices GRAMMA TALA, Moana’s confidante and best friend, who shares her granddaughter’s special connection to the ocean. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Gramma Tala (Rachel House) plays such an important role in Moana’s life. She is another strong female, not afraid to stand up to Moana’s father, “I’m his mom – I don’t have to tell him anything!” She is known as “the village crazy lady” and is okay with that! She knows that while everyone may think she is crazy, she knows who she is and that is all that matters. In the song, “Where You Are,” she explains this as:

The village may think I’m crazy
Or say that I drift too far
But once you know what you like, well, there you are

You cannot change who you are. You should embrace it and follow the voice inside your heart.

A movie to feel good about taking your WHOLE family


TEMUERA MORRISON voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI, the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. NICOLE SCHERZINGER voices Moana’s mother, SINA, who always has her daughter’s back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina appreciates Moana’s longing to be on the water, but also wants to protect her daughter from the fabled dangers beyond the reef. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Moana is a movie that you can feel good about taking the whole family to see. There is that traditional Disney humor throughout the film – you know, the hidden jokes that the adults get 🙂 There is a mention of the word “butt” and there are a few intense scenes while on the ocean or with Te Ka, but do not let this stop you. There is more good in this movie than those few scenes.

Inner Workings

Inner_WorkingsIn this pre-film short, we meet Paul, an over worked individual who’s brain runs the show. His other body parts try desperately to convince his brain to “change it up” a little. With this “inner battle” of Paul’s “inner workings,” we are on a fun, five minute adventure that will remind us to listen to our hearts every now and then!

But don’t just take my word for it. My expert kid reviewer, NDK, shares her thoughts on Moana and the pre-film short, Inner Workings!

The NDK Review:

I’m really glad we were invited to see Moana and Inner Workings. I really liked both of these movies and I hope you will, too.

Inner Workings: Inner Workings is a cute short about a man’s ‘inner workings’ – his heart, his brain and other body parts that help him function. I like how the brain was always worrying about the man because he took care of the man to make sure he didn’t die. The heart always wanted to go somewhere else besides where man worked at. That caused his other body parts to be sad. They had to find a way to work the problem out. I didn’t like the part were they show how the man’s bladder empties. I thought that was obnoxious. The man didn’t like his company and wanted to do something else. From this, I learned that you should not forget to follow your heart, too. I recommend this to ages 3-up. This short comes out in theaters November 23, 2016 along with Moana.

Moana: Moana is a tale of courage and adventure, the type of movie someone would want to watch again,and again,and again. I like how Moana never gives up, not even when they traveled to Lalotai, the realm of monsters. There was nothing I didn’t like in this movie. That’s how amazing the movie was, because there is usually something I don’t like. I learned that I should face my fears and be brave. When Moana got scared, she pushed away that scared feeling. She faced the dangers of the ocean to help her village, find Maui, and restore the heart of Te Fiti. I recommend this movie to Moana fans of all ages. Moana comes out in theaters November 23, 2016 along with Inner Workings.

**Disclosure – We were invited to a special screening of Moana. All opinions are our own, No other compensation was received. 


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