From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘ i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action- packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.
If you are looking for a fun family activity to enjoy this Thanksgiving, Disney never disappoints and this year is no different than any other. Disney’s latest 3D film, MOANA, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, sails into theaters on November 23rd with all the pomp and circumstance we have all come to expect from the Disney empire — intricate and detailed set designs and graphics, authentic and believable characters, immersive storylines, and catchy and emotionally-charged soundtracks.
Disney movies have always been a favorite in my family. Each film has it’s own story, characters and message and, in my opinion, they are all timeless treasures. One of the earliest Disney films I remember watching was Cinderella. As a child, I fell in love with Cinderella and her menagerie of animal friends, the Fairy Godmother, and the magic. As an adult, I l still ove it for all these reasons and have passed my love of Disney on to all of my children.
Moana (voiced by 15-yr-old Auli’i Cravalho), and the demigod, Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), aren’t the only fun and interesting characters in this film. There is also an adorable pig named Pua, Heihei the bumbling rooster, and the Kakamora which are tiny wild pirates that wear coconut armor. As much as I like the main characters in Disney movies, I absolutely adore the other more minor ones as well, particularly when it’s an animal character given a human-like personality. In this movie, interestingly, the ocean itself can be seen as a character in its own right as a sidekick to Moana, urging her forward in her quest to save her people. In Moana’s own words when Maui shoves her out of the boat and the water lifts and settles her back on-deck, “The ocean is a friend of mine.”
It’s so very easy to get caught up in the visual and audio delights that all Disney films provide that I am always amazed when I come across articles and documentaries that shed light on all the work that goes into researching, writing and creating each one. The massive team of collaborators that are involved with every Disney product put in months, even years, worth of painstaking work to make each film not only fun and entertaining, but also to make them historically accurate for the time in which the story is set and to convey a message or life lesson that one can take away from the experience.
That’s a great word — experience — to describe what a Disney film is. It’s not just something you watch and then simply move on to the next one. Disney projects are bigger than that. They impact you in a way that can be difficult to explain, and they stay with you. I can’t think of a single Disney movie that I haven’t watched multiple times with as much rapt attention the tenth time as the very first.
Disney has released a new featurette for your enjoyment and to give you a small glimpse at the behind the scenes work that went into researching the Pacific Islands and their way of life to create the film. Enjoy!
In addition, please also enjoy this clip of the song “We Know The Way” written and performed by Opetaia Foa‘i and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Foa’i and Miranda, along with famed composer, Mark Mancina, created the score for the movie.
For the kiddos, here are some activity sheets to enjoy while waiting for the movie to be released.
My kids and I are really excited for this movie. We don’t venture out to the theater during the holidays much due to the large crowds, but perhaps we will make an exception this year!
Which Disney film is your favorite? Do you plan to see MOANA in theaters this week?
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