Surprisingly good seems to be the verdict across the board of those who see this movie. I said as watching it, “this is good! I think I’d like to own this movie!” and we bought it within a week. I’ve watched it almost four times this month because I like it so much!
While it’s not a perfect movie, I do believe it’s very good. It has the educational piece that Disney does so well, teaching about pacific islander culture and some insights about sailing and the ocean. It has the musical piece that leaves you singing as you leave the theatre, along with a couple songs in a different language! Then it also has a fabulous story line full of adversity, adventure, and charm. Instead of a romance love story, we see the relationship between Moana and her grandma highly elevated. It brings value to the elderly and shows that treasured relationship between a grandparent and her grandchildren.
From a Christian perspective, many might think, “well it is about false gods and goddesses! How can I let my children view that? They’ll get the wrong idea!” That’s possible and you will have to make the call here. However, I believe the gods and goddesses is presented more as an ancient cultural belief or fairy tale than as something true. I think your children will be able to quickly tell that many things in the story are make believe, including that. My main advice here would be to talk with your children about some comparisons between certain characters presented and the God of the Bible. For instance, I would be careful to explain how the God of the Bible is all good, and does not have an evil counterpart like Te Fiti had Te Ka etc. Yet God often helps people in the same way that the ocean helped Moana. The God of the Bible is not like Maui for many reasons, although the God of the Bible actually did create many of the things Maui takes credit for. Again, this is a conversation you could have as you desire.
However, if you can get beyond the gods and goddesses, you’ll see a story about a girl who struggles to pursue a calling on her life. Her grandma seems to be the only one believing in her and encouraging her toward this call. Without her parents’ support, her village’s support, and with plenty of people (like Maui) telling her she can’t do it, she struggles and yet perseveres. This part of the movie, I love! It’s very real with her being overly excited at some points and incredibly discouraged at others.
I highly suggest this movie and think children and adults of all ages will enjoy it. Parts of the songs may not be as crisp and as clean as many of Disney’s past musical bits, but overall the songs still shine right along with the movie and Tamatoa, the crab. I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5 because even though it is extremely good, some of the songs do lack a “crispness” to them.