Moana Parent Review

As in previous visits to the Disney café, this South Seas adventure dishes out the expected feel-good fare.

Overall B+

Mona (voice of Auli'i Carvalho) embarks on a dangerous quest. Luckily (or not) she has the help of the legendary demigod, Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) on her high-seas adventure.

Violence B-
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A-
Substance Use A

Moana is rated PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.

Movie Review

Do you ever find yourself ordering the same menu item each time you go to your favorite restaurant? There just seems to be something comforting in knowing you won’t be disappointed with your choice. The same thing appears to be true with Disney’s animation department. They know if they stick to the tried and true recipe, they can bank on predictable results.

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In this South Sea adventure (Lilo & Stitch was set in Hawaii), Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of a chief (voice of Temuera Morrison) who is having trouble following the path her father has in mind for her life (the same situation is presented in Pocahontas). While he wants her to stay safely on land and lead the villagers, her heart is drawn to the water. But when a devastating darkness creeps across their island causing the fish to flee and plaguing the food supply, the teenaged girl knows something drastic must be done.

That’s when Moana’s grandmother (voice of Rachel House, aka Grandmother Willow) reminds her of an experience from her early cherubic childhood (the younger Moana looks a lot like Molly from Toy Story 3). On that special day, the ocean parted and presented the toddler with a glimmering green stone. Grandma now explains that the gem is the “heart of Te Fiti” – the goddess of creation. After it was stolen from her by a muscle-bound demigod named Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) a dark curse fell across all the islands of the sea. The only way to stop it from spreading is by finding Maui and convincing him to return the heart to Te Fiti. So, despite parental protests, that is exactly what Moana sets sail to do.

Continuing with similarities, this script promotes female empowerment as did Frozen. This time the strong-willed female protagonist not only doesn’t need a man to accomplish her mission, she will also figure out how to do it without much assistance from the demi-god.

Thankfully, consistent with most Disney movies, there are some positive messages within this script. Moana shows great courage and self-sacrifice during her quest to save her people (far worthier motives than The Little Mermaid appeared to have). And she provides the call of conscience to the egotistical Maui. In addition, there is great interplay between these two characters that might just parallel real life. The young upstart Cravalho puts Johnson’s seasoned macho charisma to the test—both on screen and behind the microphone as the Hawaiian teen delivers a performance far beyond her experience.

Parents should be aware that some scary monsters and moments of peril may be concerns when considering bringing their young children to this paradise. Yet, as in previous visits to the Disney café, this one dishes out the expected feel-good fare. Garnished with beautiful visuals and fun music, it’s a safe bet Moana will be a top pick for families during the 2016 holiday season.

Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker . Starring Auli'i Carvalho, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk, Jemaine Clement. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release November 23, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Moana here.

Moana Parents Guide

The navigational skills of South Seas voyagers have presented a puzzle for archeologists and anthropologists. Here are some theories about the amazing art of wayfinding.

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