Moana (2016)

(In French, In Theatres, December 2016) I’m sure that Dinsey Animation Studios aren’t infallible, but their hot post-Bolt streak isn’t ending with Moana, a terrific new entry in their Princess series. Taking on Polynesian mythology as a starting point, Moana follows a standard template that allows for a hero’s journey, vivid characters, picaresque adventures, musical numbers, comedy, empowerment and spectacular visuals. The quality of the animation is easily the best in the business, and the songs are terrific as well. (I’ll acknowledge that “How Far I’ll go” is positioned to be the Oscar-nominated one that everybody loves, but I’ll take the bouncy “You’re Welcome” and “Shiny” over it … in fact, I haven’t stopped listening to both of them in the week since watching the film.) Moana herself is a terrific heroine, self-reliant and sympathetic at once. While I watched the film in French, I could help but recognize two Dwayne Johnson visual tics (The eyebrow and the pec pops) in the character he voices in English. Moana is an effortlessly charming film, and it plays like a future classic Disney movie even on a first viewing. We’ll see in a few months whether it survives a twentieth viewing in the span of two weeks.

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