By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT’S MOANA ABOUT?
A Polynesian girl sets out to save her dying island, enlisting the help of narcissistic demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson).
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A+)
Perhaps my favorite film of the year thus far, Moana is a refreshing, visually-stunning, musically-charged delight. The tropical animation is lush and vibrant, the characters are richly-defined with inspiring arcs, the songs are delightful, and the messages hit home. Auli’I Cravalho brings genuine heart to the title role, strong, vulnerable, and sympathetic. Dwayne Johnson has excellent comedic timing here. It’s a tremendous voyage, with a strong emphasis on family, whose resolution is as moving as it is unexpected. Don’t delay. As always, preceded by a delightful short film.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Moana is rated PG. There is no foul language or sexuality. There is some slapstick violence, moments of peril, the death of a character (more uplifting than traumatic), shirtless males, and a joke about urinating into the ocean (two if you count the short film that precedes it).
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Honor your parents but don’t be afraid to follow your own path. Our loved ones stay with us after death, watching over us and helping as they can. Redemption can only come through humility. Restoration and forgiveness are stronger than violence.
For another fine Disney island adventure, check out Swiss Family Robinson!