One thing that you could say about Disney over the decades is when they find a working formula, they stick with it. Until they beat it into the ground and they have to start there and build up once again with pretty much the same formula: lovable characters, a cute but passionate princess, and a universal story. When Pixar came along and raised the bar, Disney did not lie down, they took the challenge (as well as taking John Lasseter, one of the minds behind Pixar) to make better films. And they have been churning them out in the past few years with the likes of “Tangled”, “Wreck-it-Ralph”, and “Frozen”.
Along with this years earlier monster hit “Zootopia” they are as successful and as seemingly unstoppable as Pixar was 20 years ago, and even more so than they were in the 50’s and 60’s. Enter their latest effort “Moana” a story with lovable characters, a cute and passionate princess, excuse me, daughter of the chief, and a universal story of the hero’s journey, now add a shapeshifting demigod and a brainless chicken. Sounds like a winner already.
Moana (Auli’i Carvalho) is destined to lead the people of her island, as long as that means they stay on the island and never cross the reef into the unknown depths of the ocean. And guess what is constantly calling out to Moana? Her grandmother believes that Moana is destined to lead her people into a future where the lost heart of the god Te Fiti is returned by the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson). As circumstances push Moana out to the sea she begins her search of Maui to help in her quest and restore balance to the force, I mean the world.
Disney as previously stated knows what they are doing with their films as of late. They hit all the right marks in tone, character, song and storyline that it should feel overdone but it’s not. This one like its predecessors had me chuckling and my kids cracking up, as well as holding all of our attention as there is little fat on the film that needed to be trimmed. I moves along at a steady pace and has the elements of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and the typical Disney princess that make it fun and familiar all at once.
“Moana” is a tried and true formula of a film that it deserves its place right along side the Disney classics that make the studio the success that it has enjoyed for years, and will continue to do in years to come. With or without goofy chickens. Though probably with.