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Plucky Girl

Saturday, December 03, 2016
By Deepa Gahlot

Moana
Directed by:
Ron Clements and John Musker
Cast (Voices): Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger and others
Rating: * * *

It could be seen as a sign of things to come that more Hollywood film are about plucky young women, is still the key word, but at least the leading ladies are doing more serving as the hero’s arm-candy, or waiting for their prince.

Moana is a charming, if not particularly original Disney film in which the young heroine goes on an adventure. Well, she is pretty, slim, wild-haired, wide eyed, but she had a sparring partner, who is not a ‘prettified’ male version of her.

Moana (voiced by Auli‘i Cravalho) is a 16-year-old Pacific Islander whose father (Temuera Morrison), the leader of Motunui Island has ordered that nobody can leave the island, because who knows what lies beyond.  But when her lovely island is in trouble, she gets on a boat to seek out Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a demigod who can help fight the curse on her island.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker,  who earlier made The Little Mermaid, this film follows more or less the same template about a brave girl; what is different is the massive Maui, who provides as much comic relief as the support she seeks.  Apart from the quest and the journey, and the beautiful visuals, what keeps the film ticking is the music.

Moana has all slickness and expertise of a Disney animation film, enough light moments Heihei (Alan Tudyk), a colourful chicken provides quite a few laughs) to engage young audiences and splashes of seriousness to attract grown ups. It is also noteworthy that the cast has been chosen in a culturally sensitive way—actors with some Polynesian roots, rather that successful white actors putting on accents.  In the crowd of animation films regularly coming out of Hollywood, this one’s worth a look.

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