Why did the chicken cross the ocean? To be comic relief to the latest Disney princess.
Moana follows the adventures of the titular character and the demigod Maui as they face a threat to all of Hawaii, if not the world. Does it sail past the competition, or will it sink into the ocean of oblivion? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Auli’i Cravalho debuts as the titular heroine, Dwayne Johnson of Hercules plays Maui, Alan Tudyk of Firefly voices the rooster Hei Hei, and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords plays Tamatoa.
The writers and directors are Ron Clements and John Musker. These two bring experience from such films as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog, so I feel like this movie is in good hands. It’s also worth noting that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of the hit musical Hamilton, is part of the musical team creating the songs for Moana.
The trailer begins with glimpses of a peaceful Hawaiian tribe living happily together. Then it throws a giant lava monster into the mix, because that’s always fun. To keep her people from getting burned alive, Moana goes looking for the demigod Maui, tracking ancient glyphs and crossing raging seas in search of the legendary figure. Then she finds him and scares him so badly he screams like a child. Our brave warrior, everyone.
Still, there’s a good bit of hype built up around the guy. Moana lists off his credentials: “Shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea.” “Hero of man,” Maui adds. But not your hero, since you’re a woman. “I’m not going on a journey with some little girl,” he says, and promptly throws her out of her own canoe. So make that Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, hero of man, boat thief. But the ocean drops her back on the boat and gives her a high five, since they’re friends. So is that like the whole ocean or just the Pacific? Does she get on well with the Arctic Ocean or the Baltic Sea? Because having 70% of the world for a friend is pretty impressive.
So Maui, Moana, and a rooster named Hei Hei go off to fight the lava monster, but first, as Maui says, “we’ve gotta go through a whole ocean of bad.” That means facing off against the Kakamora (I hope I’m spelling that correctly), a bunch of coconut pirates who look cute until they whip out a bunch of pointy objects and turn evil. So basically like kittens. No wonder Hei Hei freaks out and jumps ship.
We get a montage of Moana and Maui sailing through dangerous waters and avoiding fireballs, and Maui attacks the big bad lava monster with a giant glowing fish hook. Because who hasn’t wanted to see The Rock fight a lava monster? A fleet of canoes takes to the sea, we get more sailing (honestly, from the trailer, this could be Sailing: The Movie) and facing off against the lava monster, and a tender moment between Moana and her mother. The coconut pirates break out blow darts, and one of them hits Maui. “Blow dart in my butt cheek,” he announces. Because we can’t get that PG rating that says we’re not a little kids’ movie if we don’t mention someone’s posterior.
And the trailer ends as Maui and Moana open the gate to the Realm of Monsters, which is a shaft going straight down into the Earth. “Don’t worry,” says Maui, “it’s a lot further down than it looks.” Which is a little like saying, “Don’t worry, wasp stings hurt like crazy and you’re deathly allergic.” He cannonballs down and, after a ridiculously long drop, calls up and says, “I am still falling!” Which means he’s either found Steve Buscemi’s lair in Spy Kids 2 or the shaft to the Earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend the movie? Yes, yes I do. It’s got great talent behind it, from the direction to the actors to the animation to the music. And while I still don’t know exactly what the plot of the movie is, I know it’s got something to do with a giant lava monster, and that’s hard to beat. The point is it’s Disney, and their animated movies are in sort of a second Renaissance right now, so it’s a safe bet that this one will be good and fun for the whole family.
Because lava monsters should always be enjoyed on a screen, where they can’t destroy your home.
Moana is owned by Walt Disney Pictures.