Review in Brief: Moana (2016)

MOANA is colourful, energetic and heartfelt, and enriches its world with Polynesian cultural influences in a far less patronising manner than was attempted in POCAHONTAS with Native American folklore. It’s also very safe in its storytelling, falling back on Disney tropes – “I want” song; mismatched duo bickering on a quest; royal parents forcing destiny on their children – that have been worn down to the grain. Aside from the catchy tunes (“How Far I’ll Go” will burrow into your brain), the film is most worth recommending for being endearingly aware of what it is, with Maui (Dwayne Johnson) commenting much to Moana’s (Auli’i Cravalho) chagrin that, “If you ware a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess”. Said animal sidekick this time is a mentally ill chicken inexplicably voiced by Alan Tudyk, one of the many oddities on offer which include diminutive coconut-wearing pirates and a bling-encrusted crab (Jemaine Clement) who performs like the lovechild of David Bowie and Dr Frank-N-Furter. SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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