345: Moana

My Emily and I just came from the last show Moana. What can I say? The movie was just…perfect in every way. The character design was refreshing, the animation was fluid, the effects were outstanding, and most of all, the story was really strong and really coherent. This is the new high water mark for Disney movies.

What Emily really liked about the film was that there was zero romantic interest between the two lead characters, Moana and Maui. That would have been a fait accompli in the traditional Disney princess film. Instead, what we have is an arc that spans from antagonism to mentorship to respect and finally to friendship.

Also unlike traditional Disney princess films, this had a strong family component. Parents of Disney princesses are usually remote figures, dysfunctional, or outright absent. Not so with Moana, where there is a strong and present father and mother — and a grandmother — and who also have their own story arcs. They are not simply there to be foils for Moana.

And finally: here is a film that resonates strongly on the topic of vocation. All too often our lead characters are “The Chosen One” and once they realize this destiny, all the dangers and obstacles are simply external. Moana even lampshades this by having Maui sarcastically call Moana as such. But where the difference lies is that, while she may have been chosen, Moana still has to accept this calling.

Prior to the movie, we had dinner with some friends. One of them let on that she already had the movie on her cellphone. For a moment, I experienced a twinge of regret. Why did I spend P350 for two tickets when I could have gotten the bootleg? But after watching the film, I came to realize it was one that had to be seen on the big screen to be truly appreciated.

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Dom Cimafranca

Teacher, writer, project manager, and all-around nice guy.