I find myself viewing animated films on a regular basis since I have several young grandchildren.
Sometimes this is enjoyable; other times it is a duty to be endured. Seeing “Moana” was the former.
The story of a strong-willed Polynesian princess – sorry, the daughter of a tribal chief – and her alliance with the mythological demigod, Maui, is a fun and engaging experience.
Featuring the voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger and Alan Tudyk, the film follows the usual Disney formula of an adventurous heroine on a quest who is plucky, heroic and a good singer.
In an effort to save her island and her tribe, Moana seeks out Maui, a hero who has fallen on hard times, for help.
There are some nice underlying themes in the film such as following one’s calling and caring for the earth, but I think the key biblical theme is redemption.
Moana may be the protagonist of the story, but the redemption of Maui (voiced with humor and pomposity by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is the pivotal point of the plot.
Maui set out to help humanity and bring good gifts to the people, but his ego led to hubris and resulted in his downfall.
From a biblical perspective, humanity has been given dominion over the earth, but we have often overreached with dreadful results.
Maui, who was born human, represents that sinful tendency to exploit rather than to tend the garden that God has provided. He finds redemption in the end, something we all desire.
The characters are sometimes stereotypical, but viewers who are my age will love the wise and encouraging grandmother who nurtures Moana’s vision quest.
The art and visual sweep of the film are impressive, but this is something you might miss if viewing the film at home on DVD.
If your children or grandchildren want to see a movie during the holidays, all of you will enjoy “Moana.” See you at the movies!
Ircel Harrison is coaching coordinator for Pinnacle Leadership Associates and is associate professor of ministry praxis at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. A version of this movie review first appeared on his blog, Barnabas File, and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @ircel.
MPAA Rating: PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams (IX) and Don Hall
Writer: Jared Bush
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho (Moana); Dwayne Johnson (Maui); Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui); Nicole Scherzinger (Sina); Rachel House (Gramma Tala).
The film’s website is here.
Ircel Harrison is coaching coordinator for Pinnacle Leadership Associates and is supplemental associate professor of missional theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.