Disney’s Newest Princess: Moana

Megan Dean, Reporter

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Disney made yet another animated masterpiece with its latest feature film, Moana, released to theaters November 26.

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, Moana takes place in the South Pacific and follows the adventure of a young island girl captivated by the ocean and the mischievous demigod, Maui, as they journey across the sea to restore the stone heart of the island goddess, Te Fiti. Along the way the two learn who they truly are and how to be brave when following their hearts.

Moana succeeds in showcasing the Polynesian culture from the mythology-based storyline to the Oceanic music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and  Mark Mancina.  During the movie’s production, the directors visited some South Pacific islands for research and inspiration, bringing a sense of authenticity to the film and music. Moana’s feature song “How Far I’ll Go,” sung by 16 year old lead actress Auli’i Cravalho has the potential of becoming the new “Let it Go,” from Disney’s smash hit Frozen.

Unlike the traditional Disney Princess movie, Moana has no love interest and is a self proclaimed “anti-princess”. The film does, however, feature a classic animal sidekick in the form of a stupid rooster named Heihei. Despite Moana’s denial, Maui pokes fun at the classic Disney princess stereotype, saying, “If you have a dress and an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

Despite Disney’s attempt to satisfy the long standing criticism of  lacking ethnic diversity in its movies, Moana was met with even more criticism for the male lead, Maui, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Maui is a larger than life character who plays a key role in helping Moana discover herself, but his large personality matches his large build. Some of the Polynesian community voiced its distaste for Disney’s portrayal of him as overweight since it appealed to an unsatisfactory stereotype of Pacific Islanders. This seeming flaw in the movie should not take away from the strong cultural presence in the film.

Overall, Moana’s engaging storyline and beautiful CGI animation offers people of all ages valuable lessons and lovable characters that have the potential of becoming a Disney classic.

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Disney’s Newest Princess: Moana