Moana – The Rock Sings! – Review

Courtesy Disney

Courtesy Disney

The Rock is ready to sing his way into your heart this Thanksgiving.

Are you ready to let him in?

In this Disney animated holiday adventure, Auli’i Cravalho stars as Moana – the next in line to lead her Hawaiian tribe.  While life on their island has been idyllic, the future is starting to look bleak as crops fail and fishermen struggle to bring back anything to eat.

To solve the dilemma, Moana wants to set sail into the ocean and push the tribe’s boundaries, but Dad (Temuera Morrison), demands that no one sail beyond the lagoon and reef (if you have ever seen a movie, you can sense the tragic story explaining his reticence to be emerging at any moment).

Yet, Moana has a mystical connection to the ocean and finds herself in possession of a fabled treasure (of course she does, where would the conflict come from otherwise?).  If she can sail across the sea and convince the demigod Maui (Dwayne “He’ll Always Be The Rock To Me and You” Johnson) to return it to the rightful owner, her people will live bountifully once more.

Will Moana have what it takes to battle the ocean and forces more powerful than any she has ever known to save her people?

Will Maui screw it all up?

Moana is the prototypical Disney animated family film, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Directors Don Hall, Chris Williams, John Musker and Ron Clements are content to play it safe and deliver the formula.

We have plenty of musical numbers to fill time when the story is running thin.

The audience gets a dose of potty humor or silly antics from the world’s most idiotic chicken when a quick laugh is necessary to lighten the mood.

And, our heroine will find some way to persevere in the toughest times to teach our little children in the audience (and the big ones who paid for their tickets) how you can overcome any obstacle if you put your heart, mind and soul into it (don’t chuckle, let the optimistic and children among you keep believing for as long as they can).

Granted, these are nice lessons, but it isn’t anything groundbreaking.

Writer Jared Bush is able to meld the comedic and dramatic elements to the point where both sides are strong and help support each other, but the plot gets a little too detail heavy for younger kids.

It’s nice to have a dense plot, but I am not sure how many in the audience can keep up with several legendary tales, a group of family members and a handful of mythical characters (we’re just missing a partridge in a pear tree at this point).  It’s a crowded movie for one so light on plot.

In the end, you will have a good time, while Cravalho and Johnson share wonderful chemistry and charm. No matter how far afield other elements may go, these two keep the audience engaged.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

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