The best family movie of the year, Moana (played by gorgeous newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) represents a new bravery. A little girl struggles against her own self-doubt. No one, other than her crazy as Indian corn grandmother, believes in her. Her protective father, Chief Tui (played by Temuera Morrison), forbids her to go beyond the reef yet encourages her training to be the Chief-in-Training.
The spirits of the ocean beckon her. Moana makes a subtle attempt quickly giving up until her Gramma Tala (Rachel House), known as the island’s whack-job convinces her differently. It isn’t until her grandmother’s final dying wish is for Moana to save the island and her people by breaking the rule, traveling the forbidden waters. Moana learns she must trust in nature and her heart following her destiny and locating Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the demi-god who stole the heart of Te Fiti, requiring his assistance to get her there. Dwayne states why he truly enjoys this role so closely linked to his own Polynesian heritage here.
There are several reasons this film is a must see. The scenery and songs (including infamous bad guy Jermaine Clement) are captivating. The famed ex-wrestler, The Rock, charms us with his singing voice, without even laying eyes on his dazzling smile. Plus, the show allows us a peek into another culture even inviting us to believe in Moana, cheering her on in breaking free for herself and her people before time runs out.
There are no love interests, no perverse humor, yet awe-inspiring story keeping us enthralled and on the edge of our seat the entire way. A rare pearl in today’s film industry that shouldn’t be missed.
Moana is rated PG because of the furious lava monster’s need for revenge, but there is no blood or raw humor, and nothing but happy tears throughout.