Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker (2016) BBFC cert: PG
If you thought Zootropolis (2016) was this years high water mark of Disney animation, this awesome ocean going adventure leaves it in its wake.
The sturdy story is streamlined for efficiency, ferried along at pace by by toe-tapping songs and buoyed by a sea so gorgeous you’ll want to dive in.
Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho demonstrates powerful pipes and a sparky spirit as our heroine, Moana. It rhymes with Joanna. She’s the headstrong sixteen year old daughter of an overly protective Pacific island chief.
To save her island from disaster and find her own sense of identity, Moana must brave the open sea and combat storms, pirates, and a lava monster.
Moana is accompanied by a shapeshifting trickster Demi-god, Maui. Voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, the outsized physique of the former wrestling champ is strangely less ridiculous as a cartoon than it is in reality.
Nicole Scherzinger and Rachel House play Moana’s mother and grandmother, Jemaine Clement adds a touch of camp as a bling-tastic killer giant crab.
Moana is very much in charge of her own destiny as she runs, dances, jumps, climbs, sails and fights. There is a squabbling sibling rivalry with Maui but never a hint of romance. Moana is fighting for her independence, her tribe, the environment, and her future.
The messages of the importance of challenging personal and career boundaries are never laboured. They’re an integral part of the story, not something ungainly and bolted on. If arbitrarily appointed tests are your thing, Moana turns to her grandmother for advice meaning the Bechdel test is passed with flying colours.
Combining elements of classic films such as Aladdin (1992), and The Sword In The Stone (1963), this musical mystical folktale is a joyous tidal wave of fun which will leave you with absolutely nothing to Moana about.