MOANA Review — The Perfect Family Vacation

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MOANA Review by Lisa Johnson Mandell


moana reviewMy family members, ages one through 68, were among the millions who saw Moana over Thanksgiving vacation. More important than what I thought of it as a critic is how the kids in our party responded to it. Suffice it to say that they were rapturous. More than once they were moved to jump out of their seats and dance. Afterwards, they had a very long and serious discussion about who they were going to be for Halloween next year. Moana and the Coconut Pirates known as Cacamora were the hands down favorites.

As for me, I have a penchant for the crustacean Tomatoa (Jermaine Clement), who sang the brilliant song Shiney, written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, as a tribute to David Bowie. It’s pure genius to seamlessly work in a number like that in an animated feature about an evolution myth of the Pacific Islands.

Moana scores points for the brilliance and originality of the concept alone. It’s the coming of age story about Moana (rookie Auli’i Carvalho) a reluctant Pacific princess attempting to save her islands from encroaching doom. “If you’re wearing a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” she’s told, when trying to deny her title. Her quest includes close encounters with the mischievous demigod Maui, played by Dwayne Johnson, who couldn’t be more engaging.

In the score you can hear the delightful and distinct influence of composers Miranda and Pacific Island music maestro Opetaia Foa’i, as well as Disney vet Mark Mancina. And on the screen you can see the breathtaking efforts of Disney’s finest animators, doing all sorts of riotously colored things that have never been done before. Moana is wonder and joy and merriment from start to finish, just what we need in these post election days when many are still licking their proverbial wounds. Make a quick escape to the islands with those you love, and your warm and fuzzy holiday spirit will be ignited.

Rated PG

1 Hour 43 Minutes

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MOANA Review by Lisa Johnson Mandell




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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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