Movie Review:  “Moana”
Release Date: November 23, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG (for peril, some scary images, and brief thematic elements)

Disney’s animated feature, “Moana,” was anything but a box office turkey during its Thanksgiving weekend opening.  The film brought in more than $81.1 million domestically, ranking it as the second-best Thanksgiving opening on record.  “Moana” trails only behind “Frozen,” which took in $93.6 million in 2013.

Produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Moana” is set in the islands of Polynesia and tells the story of a young girl, the title character who is the daughter of an island chief, and her adventure to fulfill her destiny, which is to return a mystical and powerful relic to a goddess. Moana is voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, an actress who reportedly was the last they had seen among hundreds of auditions.

To achieve her endeavor, Moana must enlist the help of a reluctant warrior, named Maui, who is voiced by actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

All the voice talents in the film are terrific, and as is the case in most Disney films, whacky sidekicks are more than fun to watch.  In “Moana” those include a pet pig named Pua and a rooster named Hei Hei that, metaphorically speaking, doesn’t exactly have all its oars in the water.

The 3D computer-generated animation is simply beautiful, with some breathtaking artistry that is enhanced by a solid soundtrack with music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina.

The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams.

A big mahalo to the filmmakers for bringing such a wonderful story to the screen during the holiday season.

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