December 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

“I give Moana a three and a half because it gets repetitive and boring but it is still funny and adventurous. It is a good movie for a 7 or 8 year old.” So says my 11 year old niece and she seems to be a more appropriate judge of this film than I could be. In fact, I completely agree on the rating. Since the Disney/Pixar merger, most of the films have more closely hewed to the Pixar aesthetic, while this one is decidedly more Disney in its story and structure, even while looking like a Pixar film. I think I would have preferred a little more Pixar and a little less Disney, overall. Female-centered stories have been the Disney standard since 1937’s “Snow White” and fortunately their heroines have gotten stronger and more independent over time. I also give Disney kudos for telling stories from around the world and this Polynesian adventure (with a vocal cast almost entirely from New Zealand and Hawai’i) is a worthy addition to the canon. That said, I missed the clever adult humor, nuanced characters and complex emotions that are so often on display in a Pixar piece. These characters were more archetypal and have more in common with Ariel and Aladdin than they do with Woody or Wall-E. And then there is also Disney’s annoying habit of having characters break into song. We now know that an animated film can be successful without singing; this isn’t the 80s, when they might have been excused for wondering that. There was no point in this movie where I thought, “Gosh. What they need right now is some singing.” But, that distraction aside, the film was visually beautiful and the story was action-packed and entertaining enough for its 107 minute run time. I actually enjoyed it a fair amount. I just think that, with a few tweaks, I might have enjoyed it that much more.


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