MOVIE REVIEW: “Moana” Sails Beautifully Despite Some Stormy Songs & Characters

MOVIE REVIEW: "Moana" Sails Beautifully Despite Some Stormy Songs & Characters
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There was a time where Pixar was king of CGI animated films and Walt Disney Animation Studios took a back seat to the hits that Pixar was pumping out on a yearly basis. As of late, the studios have changed seats. With recent hits such as “Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Frozen” and “Zootopia”, Walt Disney Animation has shown they are a force to be reckoned with. “Moana” is the studio’s 56th animated film for Disney, but does “Moana” deliver or does it sink to the bottom of The Pacific?

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“Moana” comes to us courtesy of the team of legendary Disney directors, Ron Clements and John Musker. Clements and Musker were responsible for the following Disney classics:

  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Hercules (1997)
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009)

“Moana” is Clements and Musker’s first CGI film for Disney.

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Moana (Auli’l Cravalho) is the daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) and is being instructed by her father to become the leader of their tribe.  Moana soon demonstrates that she is a wise and beloved leader. The survival of the tribe is threatened by some plague-like events which forces Moana to make a decision as to whether to disobey her father’s wishes or journey beyond the safe shores of her island home and search for the legendary demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), with hopes that he can save her village from famine and extinction.

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“Moana” is a movie that is bound to be another Disney classic. It is a movie that is fun for the whole family. It has a fairly original story, an enjoyable musical score and it is a visual feast for the eyes. Clements and Musker continue to show that they still have the skills to deliver impressive work blending both story and music together. The voice cast was perfectly cast especially newcomer Auli’l Cravalho, who provides the voice of Moana. I would say that the message for this film is to believe in yourself and that you will find you can do things that even you didn’t believe you were capable of doing, especially if it is for the good of others. And that is a great message to both kids and adults.

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‘The animation in “Moana” is one of the most beautiful films that the Walt Disney Animation Studios has ever made. I noticed a lot of new and innovative techniques displayed in this movie and it’s great to see that the animators are always looking to advance the art of CGI animation instead of rest on their laurels. The colorful tropical setting, the ocean and especially Maui’s hair really stand out.

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You can tell that Disney has been going after both demographics, girls and boys, with having two main characters for each. One being a strong independent princess and the other being a demigod warrior voiced by a wrestler. I feel like the advertising has been pushing Maui on us more than Moana, but make no mistakes, this is Moana’s story and she is great role model for all children, not just girls. She follows in the footsteps as such classic Disney Princesses such as Ariel and Rapunzel by showing strong independence and a thirst for adventure but she also shows so much love for her family similar to Anna and Elsa. Speaking of love, there is no love story. Kind of odd not to have a love story in a Disney princess movie, but it is a nice break too and I thought it made it a better movie.

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The animal sidekicks are great in this movie. We dont see much of Pua The Pig but he is a cute character that both kids and adults will love. Heihei The Rooster has a larger supporting role and steals almost every scene he is in. Both are examples where you dont always need talking animals for comedy to work. I also loved the Kakamora, who were living warrior/pirates coconuts. They definitely could have been Disney’s versions of The Minions but felt they could have used more screen time.

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Now for the negative, and for the most part they are minor.

Dwayne Johnson does a good job of voicing Maui, but I liked his performance better when he spoke as a more traditional Southern Pacific-an. Dwayne Johnson throws in a lot of his enthusiastic personality, including his “Rock” persona. I am never a fan of American slang and modern phrases ending up in movies that take place in a particular time period and locations outside of the United States. I was thinking of how Andre The Giant in “The Princess Bride” blew away The Rock’s performance. Andre never threw in lines like “body slamming” but would make rhymes about peanuts that made everyone laugh. I felt the directors may have asked Johnson to ad-lib, or maybe it was of his own doing, but it was too much. The Genie in “Aladdin” worked because it was something new and it had Robin Williams just being himself. But what Williams has done has been copied for almost 25 years and it’s getting old. I could do without adding hip stuff to movies that don’t require it. Dwayne Johnson seems like a great guy but he always plays himself in every movie he is in.

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I wasn’t crazy about the character of Maui. He basically was a jerk and an attention freak. And when you get to the end of the movie, you realize that he really messed things up for everyone in this movie, even more-so that you thought. He is a fun character, and at one point you have sympathy for the character, but ….. he is still a jerk. I did research about the mythological character Maui and in Hawaiian mythology he was kind of like Hercules. I wouldn’t call Maui a hero in this movie. Just that his arrogance and conceit caused a lot of people pain. More than half the movie was about Moana trying to convince Maui that only he could save her people after what he did that caused all of the problems that everyone had to begin with. Moana is the real hero of this movie. 

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Also Disney, PLEASE! Lay off the butt and peeing jokes in your movies! You should be better than other animated studios and shouldn’t have to find humor by using toilet humor.

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Going into the movie, I knew that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote songs for the movie. The only thing that I knew about him was that he wrote the music and starred in the play “Hamilton”. To me, Lin-Manuel Miranda is no Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. The music that they wrote for “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty And The Beast” were classics. All very memorable and forever in most peoples mind’s when they think of Disney. Most of the songs in “Moana” are either hit or miss and not very memorable. It sounds more like Miranda had a Broadway musical in mind and I know that it will inevitably hit Broadway or a Disney Cruise Ship. At times, I felt his lyrics could have been written by a gradeschooler. I kept guessing what his rhyming lyric was going to be and was usual right. Daughter, let me guess? Water! BINGO. “How Far I Go” is without a doubt the best song from the movie, but I swear they must have played that song at least 4 times during the movie. It’s a great piece but “How Far I Go” is no “Let It Go”.

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Speaking of music, the absolute worst character in the movie had to be Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement). Tamatoa was a giant crab that lived deep in the ocean and had a love for all things shiny. Jemaine Clement sings a song called “Shiny” and it is awful. It has to be one of the worst songs ever made for a Disney movie and again Miranda uses his genius to rhyme such words as “shiny” and “hiney”. Like I said, enough with the butt jokes, Disney. That song and scene totally felt so out of place. It was weird, it was boring and was so not needed. They could have cut that 10 minutes out of the movie and it would have flowed so much better. Definitely skipping that chapter when the movie comes out on Blu-ray.

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My last negative was the pre-movie short, “Inner Workings”. It’s like “Paperman” and “Inside Out” had a baby. An ugly baby. Again, more potty humor of peeing, uninspired animation and a pure ripoff of the two movies I previously mentioned. I was kind of disappointed that “Zootopia” did not have a short before it, but if they were going to make something like this, they were better off. If your running late for “Moana”, you may have actually done yourself a favor.

Image Source: Entertainment Weekly

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I know I listed a lot of negatives but I still really enjoyed “Moana” and I highly recommend it. I actually enjoyed this more than “Frozen” and “Finding Dory” but not as much as “Zootopia”. I believe most Disney fans will really love this film and will look forward to adding this movie to their Disney library. The verdict is still out as to whether this will be a classic or not. Only time will tell. But i think it will. And I hope it will.

I give “Moana” an 8/10.

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    • I think you were looking for and pretending to find something that isn’t there. Please feel free to point out where there is any political bias in his review.

      • Thanks Brad. I’m not sure what he is referring to either. Could be that I wasnt a big fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda. If the music was great, I would have picked up the soundtrack, but I wasnt feeling it.

        To the Truth, I’m just saying, wait till you see the movie. Your opinion may be different then mine but that is all it is, opinion. And so is mine. No political statement here.

        If anything I like that they are carrying on the tradition of having empowering and strong female lead characters in their movies.

    • absolutely agree. it’s very clear this is a conservative commentary. heck, the author even defends himself by saying “If anything I like that they are carrying on the tradition of having empowering and strong female lead characters in their movies,” as if he deserves a pat on the back for being okay with strong female characters.

      • I like strong female characters. It makes me feel good that little girls, and little boys, can see that girls can do anything that boys can do. That they dont have to wait for their prince to come and rescue them.

        I think your problem with me is that I didn’t like Lin Manuel Miranda’s music. I have news for you, I’m not the only one. Check out other reviews and forums and you will find people saying that the music was the weakest part of this movie. The music is not memorable and the lyrics are bad. And after seeing him at the Oscar’s I do think Miranda is a glory hound for rapping, which was horrible, before Auli’i Cravalho sang the song that was actually nominated for an Oscar.

  • Isn’t the reason that Walt Disney Animation is better now because John Lasseter is the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney Animation? So, the writer failed here in my opinion. Pixar is awesome because of John Lasseter, and now so is WDA, which was not mentioned in the article. The writer failed here. #fail

    • Vincent, you are right about Lasseter and he may have heavily influenced WDA. He also was heavily involved with Hayao Miyazaki later works and was producer of many of Studio Ghibli movies. And am thankful that he helped bring those movies to America.

      I apologize if I didnt mention WDA more in the review. I think they have an awesome team of animators.

      My point was that Pixar always meant quality and in recent years they havent been as good as they were.

      I remember a time when Pixar, and it could have been Lasseter saying this, that the reason for their success was that they took chances and loved telling original stories. I specifically remember hearing that, other than Toy Story, they didnt want to do sequels. That’s all Pixar does now. I will give them Toy Story 3 because that was very well done, but look at the rest:

      Cars 2 – The start of an ugly trend of sequels. Just an awful movie.
      Brave – Not a huge hit with the fans but I always liked it. The Brother Bear stuff should have been left out.
      Monsters University – Sequel #2 (or prequel) Another one I liked, but it was really unnecessary. Wished they would have done something original.
      Inside Out – I will admit, I am definitely alone in this opinion but I did not like this movie. I have seen this movie three times and my opinion hasn’t changed. Wont even go into it. But like I said, I am in the minority here.
      The Good Dinosaur – Not a huge hit with the fans or the box office. I didnt think it was as bad as most people, but not one of Pixar’s best.
      Finding Dory – Sequel #3 It was just OK for me, but like Cars 2, it wasnt needed. Both movies took an annoying secondary character and made them the lead. Dory had better results. More of a cash grab to me.
      Cars 3 – Sequel #4. Coming in 2017. Had zero interest in this until I saw the teaser trailer yesterday. But I could have done without another sequel, especially a Cars one.

      Bottom line is Pixar is doing way too many sequels instead of original stories. Meanwhie WDA studios during the same period came out with:
      Tangled
      Winnie The Pooh
      Wreck-It Ralph
      Frozen
      Big Hero 6
      Zootopia
      Moana

      If i had to choose from the two lists above, give me WDA any day. Pixar really needs to step up it’s game and lay off the sequels. But they better give us Incredibles 2 first! That is the one Pixar movie I felt that needed a sequel.

      • Oh wow, I actually thought Inside Out was far better than advertised. I agree with you about Brave. That was a really underrated/under-appreciated film. Not a classic, by any stretch, but rock solid. Still haven’t seen Finding Dory, but everyone I know that has said it exceeded their expectations. My own are rather low, but I now want to see it due to what everyone else has said.

        But Cars 3…hmmmm…I’ll be willing to give it a chance…I guess.

        • Hey Scott! I have heard some people say they didnt like Inside Out, but like me, they are extremely rare. I even question my opinion about the movie but I have given that movie several chances and I’m not going to like something just because everyone else does. lol

          I still like watching Brave. That movie had problems behind the scenes. The original director was either fired or left the project because they didnt like where she was going but they kept some of her movie in there. I think they could have replaced the bear and did some kind of story where the neighboring clans went to war and she was trying to make peace. Maybe because she refused to marry? Show more of her skills. But the whole mother, daughter, bear thing would have been OK if Brother Bear didnt do it first. Just like SPECTRE might have been better if Austin Powers didnt make Dr. Evil his brother first.

          Dory was OK but I dont want to own it. I thought it was going to be horrible and it wasnt but still not one on my best movies of the year list.

          Moana was really good. Just thought Maui was a jerk (cant say the word I want to say) and although the music was OK, it wasn’t great either. But I will pick it up day one when it comes out on video.

  • You only dislike the songs becsuse your a butt-hurt ninties kid who latches onto his precious little kid hood, and sure your not a freaking toddler (with your reasons you might be) but toddlers eat the pee jokes and the fart jokes up, if not then angry birds and the minions movie wouldnt exist. Learn to except change, and the writing genius that is lin manuel miranda. Have a nice day sir! “What a terrible preformance get the hook!”-tamatoa

    • Have you even seen the movie? How can you get upset and defensive over something you haven’t even seen yet? Can’t believe you are defending pee and fart jokes.

      How Far I’ll Go is a great song and will probably win an Accademy Award. I liked the song You’re Welcome too. Shiny is a horrible song and feels so out of place in the movie. The rest of the songs are luke warm at best. How many writing geniuses rhyme shiny with hiney?

      • I’m with you. My wife and I are music fanatics. We absolutely love music of all kinds and love Disney soundtracks. Walking out of this movie though, we both mentioned how disappointed we were with the songs. They really left us wanting more. And yes, “Shiny” is the worst song ever. It was totally jarring because it was so weird and for us, it pulled us out of the movie. It just didn’t fit. That whole sequence should have been left on the cutting room floor. Just awful. Now I must admit, How Far Will I Go is growing on me the more I hear it. However, the reprises are far better than the main version. They are bigger, have more layers, and are more emotional. I think your review was very accurate and we pretty much felt the same way. Thanks for keeping it real.

        • Shiny is an important song in the movie. It’s where Maui changes how he views Moana. It NEEDS to be there. And it shouldn’t be jarring unless you were only looking for upbeat cheery songs. The reason it is good is because it’s the anti-lesson for the movie. Tamatoa sings about how you shouldn’t follow your heart or be yourself, you should only worry about what you look like and that’s why he is perfect. Saying it doesn’t fit is like saying that Poor Unfortunate Souls isn’t fitting or any other villain song. They teach the same lesson, “Do what I’m doing because no one cares about who you really are”.

          Side note: He doesn’t live deep in the sea, it’s the Realm of Monsters which is UNDER the bottom of the sea. It’s an entire realm of itself.

          I greatly disagree with many of your negatives listed but since this comment was only about Tamatoa I’ll stop there.

          Also, the pee jokes are fitting, it’s a children’s movie, children love pee jokes. Kinda gotta deal with it.

      • Kinda feel like the “toilet humor” thing is nitpicking. Humor is subjective, yes, but using that type of humor doesn’t make something low brow, or diminish it’s quality. It just means you didn’t like it. Also, Tamatoa was my favorite character in the movie. Shining was my favorite song too, I think he was pretty menacing. He was picking apart the hero’s both physically and mentally, breaking them down. Just my opinion though

      • Sorry, I’m a little late to this thread, but I’d love to throw my two cents in on “Shiny” as contrary to many, it makes the list of my top 3 favorite songs on the soundtrack.

        Yes, lyrically speaking, the song is a bit uninspired. HOWEVER, I feel that it works within the movie on a few subconscious levels.

        1. All of the other songs in the movie are sung by characters within the general culture of the south Pacific islands. They’re intended to have that sort of “laid back” vibe to them, and carry the culture within both the lyrics and the music. They do exactly that. Tamatoa isn’t from the islands; he’s from the realm of monsters. Hence, he’s probably much more adapted to the minor keys, dissonance, and sort of dragged/sliding notes we hear as he performs “Shiny”.
        ***NOTE*** This sort of musical dynamic is ALSO utilized in Dr. Facilier’s “Friends on the Other Side” (Princess and the Frog)

        2.Tamatoa is meant to be a sort of petty, childish character. Think of the girl (or boy) in high school always far preoccupied with their looks and reputation and lacking in the intellectual stimulation department. Chances are, not much has changed…. Tamatoa isn’t worried about the depth of his words or the value of his emotions; he’s too busy being glamorous. So words like “hiney” fit in. Cheesy rhymes such as “semi-demi-mini-god” work. The pun where he says “Get the hook” is appropriate, because Tamatoa as a character doesn’t give a damn about the content he’s speaking. He’s just SHINY.

        3. The scene itself, with or without song, is quite necessary. First off, Maui wanted to get his hook. This scene allows the story to progress as they’d already beaten the Kakamora and it was too early to bring on the pinnacle of the movie and send them straight to Te Ka… A second “villain” with slightly more character development than the Kakamora (but not as much as Te Ka) gives a nice sort of step-up before the…. Boss Level if you will.
        Furthermore something happens during this scene that reveals a part of Maui’s character, and a phrase in Tamatoa’s song (as well as a brief clip) give Moana and viewers some insight that starts to unravel Maui’s story. So whether or not the song was included, the scene itself does have elements that keep the storyline moving.

        Is “Shiny” a work of lyrical genius? God, no. That said, I do feel that it has a proper place within the story and works on a more subtle level than some of the other songs. Just my little opinion.

    • Amy, I know a lot of people who liked Inner Workings. But like you said, to each their own. Just my opinion, doesn’t mean I’m right. I liked Piper that was shown before Finding Dory a lot better. Thanks for being nice. :)

  • Just saw Moana. Beautiful animation. Strong lead character both in design and voice talent. Liked the story. Loathed the contemporazation of Maui. Annoyed me to no end. I am a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda but this is not his best work. Maybe two decent songs in the film. The rest are trite. Wait for the DVD.

  • Wow, strongly disagree with your assessment of Shiny. That song is the perfect blend of Jemaine’s comedic genius and Bowie-style glam rock. That song was so wonderfully weird, campy and over the top that it worked for me. Definitely belonged in a movie with murderous coconut pirates.

    • We agree. We were laughing out loud to the lyrics (although I’ll admit the “shiny” and “hiney” thing is a bit sophomoric). Our favorite song was definitely “You’re Welcome”. Fit perfectly with Maui’s “full of himself” persona.

      • Shiny was an excellent song. Ursula meets Bowie. I didn’t like that this articles author takes a swipe at hiney/shiney (low hanging fruit rhyme) but doesn’t give credit to the more creative and intelligent humor and rhymes in the same song. Common! demigod/decupod was brilliant!

  • You are so off! Shiny is an amazing bowie tribute and that short before moana made me cry..it was beautiful! Moana was so good! Kicked finding dory’s ass! We all loved it and my daughter is already singing all the songs around the house…

  • Completely agree about the Tamatoa / crab scene and “Shiny” song. It was horrible and so misplaced. I wish it was completely removed from the movie. The rest was fantastic!

      • Poor Unfortunate Soul was not misplaced in The Little Mermaid. It fit perfectly. It set up Ursala’s manipulation of Ariel perfectly. Trying to convince Ariel that she is not a bad person, just misunderstood and she just wants to help Ariel get what she wants. Shiny adds absolutely nothing to the movie. They could have cut that whole scene out and Maui could have gotten his hook back in a much more exciting way that didnt drag the movie down.

        • Shiny sets up/furthers the main thematic contrast in the film. External valuation (represented by Tamatoa’s need to be shiny and Maui’s need for approval) -against a concept of self worth that comes from within (the grandmother/Moana). This is even addressed in the intro to shiny. If you cut that song you loose a lot of this tension.

          • I loved the song Shiny….it’s the contrast to Moana and her quest/grandmother’s teachings. Heck….it’s the one song from the movie my 8 year old son has been singing all weekend, and after seeing it once, knows at least half the lyrics and the tune. I have bought the soundtrack (a first for a Disney movie for me).

          • Interesting comment Nancy about it contrasting Moana’s grandmothers teachings. I definitely will be picking it up when it comes out on video and keep that in mind.

            Still dont like the character of Tamatoa. Just seemed like everything else fit, and a giant talking crab that was into collecting shiny objects did not. I liked the Kakomora and they did not need to talk to convey what they were feeling. So glad that Pua and Heihei did not talk and even Te Fiti did not talk. But for some reason they had to make this giant crab talk and it just did not fit….to me. It worked for some but it didt work for everyone.

  • My review is just opinion and how I felt. I was on a panel for the Toys For Tots Marathon and 2 people on the show also saw Moana this weekend and agreed with everything I said. So I’m not alone. Shiny feels so out of place in that movie. Both that song and that scene. I think the song would have worked in another movie, just not Moana. I liked the movie, just didnt love it.

    • Shiny should be a tonal shift as it occurs in the realm of monsters and so thematically breaks from the culturally rooted sound of the rest of the film. It is definitely an out there song, but has complexity that bears up very well to repeat listening. I suppose it’s easy to get distracted by the potty humor (hiney/shiny) and miss the complex rhythm and rhyming of accurate mythological and scientific terms (demigod/decapod)

      • I loved Shiny. The Realm of Monsters was supposed to be a weird place, and it’s a weird funky song for a weird funky character. I loved how Jemaine sang it like “Bowie’s In Space” from the Conchords show. I guess some people like it and some don’t. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong, just means different people have different opinions.

  • Shiny was the perfect Bowie homage. My girls have no idea who David Bowie or Flight of the Concords are, but that was the song they cam out if the theater singing. That scene and no other part of this happily love interestless disney mocie will be skipped in our house! Bought the soundtrack in the theater while the credits were rolling!

  • To each their own, I guess, but I really liked ‘Shiny’. It was weird as fuck and reminded me not only of Bowie, but Rocky Horror Picture Show, too. And I enjoyed the surreal imagery of the scene, since most of the movie looked beautiful, yes, but pretty tame.

    • You are completely right. It definitely had a David Bowie, Tim Curry vibe to it. I just think it would have worked better in a different movie.

    • LMM has said on record that he wrote the song shortly after Bowie’s death.
      The concept of traveling to the underworld/land of monsters where nothing as it is in the realm of the humans as a story telling device is about as old as the oldest of our surviving human stories. As is the concept of an evil character covering treasure before all else.
      Excellently executed, in my own subjective opinion.

  • It’s interesting that you think that movie actors have control over the lines they say. That and your personal bias shining through make you seem like a bit of a hiney yourself, to be honest ;)
    Subjective movie review is subjective!

  • Worst review of Moana I’ve read to date. Tamatoa was one of the best characters and “Shiny” was absolutely brilliant. If you did your research you would know that the song, character, and the actor belonged there as much as Maui himself. I won’t bother educating you, take the time to google yourself. Disney made extremely smart (some of their best ever) decisions with this movie in cooperation with the Oceanic Trust. My entire family loved it, and the depth of the movie has been on forefront of our conversations for days. This movie differs from most Disney movies in this regard and the importance of every detail possibly sailed right over your head.

  • I know I was not the only one to dislike that whole Tamatoa scene. A lot of people did not like that scene and felt it was not needed at all. I would have liked it more if the character was more threatening and menacing than vain. Tamatoa was just a dumb and forgettable character. And if you like the song Shiny, enjoy it. But I wont and it doesn’t fit in the movie.

    I thought the music for Beauty And The Beast was perfect. I was not a fan of Human Again, which was left out for a reason. They put it back in for the Special Edition. Watched it once, and that was enough for me. Give me the theatrical version any day.

    Some people make it seem like I hated this movie. Not the case at all. It just had some negatives to me. Most films do. I do like How Far I’ll Go and really like You’re Welcome. Fun song. I gave this movie a good review and encouraged people to go see it. And cant wait to own it when it is released on Blu-ray.

  • Let me respectfully say that Tamatoa was my favorite part of the entire movie. I have read your critiques, and I understand where you are coming from, but I maintain that his scene was fantastic. The animation, the vocal work, the musicality was absolutely transporting, and I might argue that Tamatoa could have found his way into other parts of the movie, instead of being a “one-off” character, as they say. But darn. It was pretty amazing watching a villainous character blend menace with vanity to that level. It was Ursula accelerated. Some of the rhymes? Easy. Although you are way too fixated on the hiney rhyme. But he was one of those characters that was truly unpredictable and scary all at once.

  • My wife and I were extremely excited for this movie to come out. Animation and storyline was great. Samoan songs were great. But we both left feeling underwhelmed and confused at the other English songs. I feel like Disney thought that they could capitalize on the Hamilton hit and tried to put a square peg in a round hole. Didn’t like the coconut song, you’re welcome, and hated shiny. I’ve never hated a Disney song before. I wished they would have used some local Hawaiian artist like Kolohe Kai (YouTube the song He’eroa by them) and you would understand. I found this article because i wondered if anyone else was disappointed by the songs. Glad I’m not there only one. It’s a shame , because I feel like it is a big moment for Pacific islanders.

    • Trust me, you are not alone. I wont mention any names besides me at WDWNT, but the 3 people on staff that I spoke to who saw the movie agreed with me about the music, and especially Shiny.

      And I totally agree with you regarding Kolohe Kai. The Rock cant sing and the people in the audio booth used their best magic to make him sound good. Now Auli’i Cravalho could sing!

      I will admit I was a bit harsh on Miranda but I was expecting a lot more from him. I think How Far I’ll Go is a great song and You’re Welcome definitely has grown on me. My opinion hasn’t changed on Shiny and his lyrics

  • Man, really? Shiny, along with some animation bits and moments and a few decent jokes were the only thing I truly enjoyed in this movie. The sappy main song is.. well too sappy generic and unnecessarily repetitive. The story is uninspired, forced, boring and predictable, even if they took a more obscure story than usual. The struggles are eye-popping dumb. I know the lyrics for shiny can sound pandering, but they are clever and for a movie that ponders to children, parents and the times so desperately in search for money, you can forgive a joyous four minutes that do some of the same with visual splendor along with some clever sounds and thrills. Not that any part of the movie is very thrilling but I found some funny thrills there. Dory isn’t a good movie but moved me more and made me laugh more and has some more original characters and even story.

    • I like the main song How Far I’ll Go. Maybe it is a bit sappy but I feel it is a very empowering song.

      Like I said, I never saw Hamilton before and from all of the Tony Awards that it won, I was expecting real genius. I have some friends that have the Hamilton soundtrack without even seeing the play and they love it. Others I know have seen the play and have said, he’s overrated. So this was my first real taste of Miranda’s work. I really should listen to Hamilton on Spotify.

      We recently put up the How Far I Go musical sequence on our site. I watched it and love the melody, think the animation is incredible but I do think he is overrated, especially his lyrics. If you listen to songs like Shiny and You’re Welcome (which I like) over and over, it’s going to stick with you and definitely become better over time. The other song that I dont like, which I will probably get hate for, is We Know The Way. It just sounds very generic.

      I didnt review Frozen but really loved that movie for the first 20 minutes. When Anna performed For The First Time In Forever, I thought, this is it. This movie is going to be a classic. The first 20 minutes felt like an operetta and I was like, damn, this is so cool. But I’d say after Let It Go, it lost it’s way a bit. Dont get me wrong, I loved a lot of that story especially the betrayal part and the message of sisterly love but felt it could have been so much more than it was. I would have had Olaf not speak at all and just mime what he was trying to say and Kristoff was a bit of a himbo and really didnt like him pretending to talk like Sven. And I did not like Fixer Upper. That was another song and sequence that just didnt fit.

      And it’s not like I hate all talking animals. The Jungle Book, Lady And The Tramp and Robin Hood are great. Those movies would not have worked without them talking. Maybe Lady And The Tramp would have. lol

      I’m also a fan of silent movies and just feel that characters can express themselves sometimes more emotionally without having to talk. Look at Wall-e.

      Still like the movie guys, especially Moana herself, just not everything about it.

  • I completely disagree with you about “Shiny”. That song is amazing and is totally different than any other Disney song. That whole scene was perfection to my opinion. And Disney uses the butt jokes because kids crack up. That’s about it. I can’t believe anyone would find so much negativity in such a great movie.

    • Like I said, I think Disney does not have to use ‘butt” jokes. They can crack kids up in other ways than talking about peeing and whatever else they were doing. But I love Despicable Me and that has fart jokes. I dont know. lol I love animated movies and have seen so many with fart jokes lately that I am like…..enough! Just seems like a quick and easy way to get a laugh.

      If you liked the movie, Annie, that’s all that matters. Just pointing out what I liked, and what I didnt like.

  • Couldn’t disagree more. The song Shiny is my favorite in the score. It’s an awesome homage to Bowie. I thought Miranda’s songs fit Disney like a glove. To each their own I guess.

  • I personally loved the crab character, and I was telling my wife that the song shiny is the first disney song i have loved since king louie in jungle book.

  • You know, I love Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, but one day I realized that Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid and Somewhere That’s Green from Little Shop of Horrors had too much in common both thematically and musically, and both lost some of their luster for me (which probably isn’t fair to the latter since they wrote it first.)

    Menken also lost something when Ashman passed so not only was the music still same-y but it was also a lesser version than what it used to be, which is probably why Frozen had a much more successful soundtrack than Tangled.

    I’m glad that Disney is bringing in fresher more contemporary talents (and more diversity in general.)

    I also think Tamatoa is very menacing when you consider that he surrounds himself with the illusion of decadence and wealth to attract “dumb dumb dumb” fish, not unlike the way a certain real world persona spent years cultivating a flashy persona to similarly fool the masses. Given the song’s writer, I doubt the similarities are accidental. They’d fly over the head of the intended audience but it did give me pause as an adult.

    He also has a lot in common with Ursula with his cynicism and bad advise. Both caution against being yourself and suggest focusing on the superficial instead. Now more than ever it’s important for children and adults alike to remember that inner strength matters more than outer appearances, which can be deceiving, particularly in the case of Tamatoa.

    I do agree that the sequence is a bit jarring. It confused me at first just because it was so out there, but I woke up with Shiny stuck in my head and the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I feel similarly about Fixer Upper in Frozen. That song still annoys me, but it does fit. The trolls may be singing about Anna and Kristoff, but Anna realizes it’s actually applicable to her sister, particularly “People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed.” It’s just not overt so I appreciate its subtlety even if the music itself is annoying.

  • Also, he may rhyme shiny and hiney (not exactly what I would consider a D&F joke, even if ‘hiney’ does indicate the posterior) but he also rhymes demi-god and decapod. And didn’t Shakespeare himself achieve success by appealing to both the groundlings and the elite?

  • I enjoyed your review and respect your opinion, but count me among those who disagree with you about the song Shiny and the Tamatoa scene. I liked the entire movie a lot, but one flaw is that the whole plot was a bit too predictable – you just know how the whole story will plod along. The surreal Tamatoa scene throws a monkey wrench into this predictability, being jarring and amusing at the same time, providing a refreshing mid-movie diversion before the film returns to its predictable story arc. I laughed out loud during that scene the first time I saw it and walked out of the theater with Shiny in my head – and it’s been there ever since! The song itself, complete with its Bowie-esque glam-rock vibe, is brilliantly written and scored, and Jermaine Clement’s vocals are a perfect fit for it. I also like the way that Tamatoa is more vain than evil – not every villain has to be the devil incarnate.

    • Not another Joe! LOL No one is going to change my opinion on Shiny. I watched the musical segment for Shiny and still feel it does not belong in the movie. It’s a fun song though.

      I didnt think it was too predictable. I was some what surprised that the Te Fiti was the lava monster. But I guess it was predictable that she would accomplish her mission and that Maui would learn something.

      I am looking forward to see it again on video.

  • I disagree with your opinion with “Shiny” and Tamatoa. I feel like “Shiny” was only a little out of place not much, and if you didn’t have “Shiny” and Tamatoa the movie might be a bit bland besides a couple of the more exciting songs like “You’re Welcome”. The toilet humor is only a little annoying but it’s good for toddlers that like that kind of stuff.
    Also (excuse my bad usage of commas) Rhyming shiny and hiney works because Tamatoa says “It’s time to kick your hiney” since he wants to get revenge for his leg Maui ripped off

    • Hey Sophie. It’s been a while since I have seen it, and unfortunately have only seen it once, but I didnt realize that Maui said the hiney part, I thought Tomatoa said it, but I guess it makes sense that Maui would say it.

      I love the old Warner Brother’s cartoons. And they were very adult and very silly and did some risque stuff for back in the day but I loved it. Disney was never close when it came to that kind of animated comedy. The Disney cartoons were funny and made you smile but Bugs Bunny really made me laugh. Guess what I am trying to say is pushing the line humor is fine in some cartoons or animated movies but feel that a movie like Moana just didnt need it. It had more of a serious but fun tone. And by no means was there a lot. Wreck It Ralph had some with the Hero’s Duty part and to be honest, felt that could have been left out. It didnt help that was the first clip that they released for the movie. But that movie was made to be funny with some serious overtones. I’m probably contradicting myself. Guess I am trying to say too that I do like funny movies. Like I loooooove the first Despicable Me movie, hate the second one. But love that they do potty humor in there because it is meant to push the envelope a bit and it is sincerely funny. The Minions are great too.

      I do hold Disney to a hire standard. They do have competition out there with Dreamworks, Sony and Fox but still feel like Disney should always be something in a category all of it’s own. And Disney has released crap like Home On The Range and Mars Needs Moms. For the most part I really enjoyed The Hunchback Of Notre Damme, until Jason Alexander’s character showed up. That guy was all potty humor and to me that movie could have been a classic if his antics were not in it. It has such great scenes and music. I see it on Netflix and love the opening when Tom Hulce sings Out There, him rescuing Esmerelda, then I realize that I have to sit through lines like “pour the whine and cut the cheeese”. The other two Gargoyles were fine. Think they just through Alexander in there because Seinfeld was so big back then.

      I’ll also mentioned that I liked Frozen and thought that had a strong beginning but had some misfires in the story. I thought Olaf was going to be a nightmare from the trailers I had scene but he wasnt bad. But I really would have preferred if Olaf didnt talk. Think that would have added a lot to it. So glad Heihei did not talk in Moana. Thought he was a great character.

      And again this is just my opinion. It’s not the right opinion, just mine. But I know I am not alone and I know neither are you. I heard people say they walked out of the movie when Shiny was playing. That is a bit extreme. I have heard people say they truly despise Shiny and I have heard others say it is their favorite Disney song in a very long time. Looking forward to seeing it again.

  • Actually, Tamatoa DOES say the hiney part, not Maui. I also agree that Moana could do without the potty humor and if you took it out of the movie would still be basically the same! I also loove funny movies, too. I think Olaf was really funny and without him the movie would be pretty serious but yeah Olaf CAN be sorta annoying!

    Heihei was hilarious! But if Heihei was even ABLE of talking i dont think he would because he has no brain LOL.

    Everbody has their own opinion and its ok! Shiny IS sorta annoying sometimes and i get that people dont like it!

    Really? People have walked out of the movie theater when Shiny was playing? Thats really extreme, but i wouldn’t say Shiny is necessarily my favorite song. :3

  • Wow, one of the worst reviews I have ever read about a great movie. First of all, ‘Shiny,’ is quite possibly the greatest animated song since The Grinch. Not really sure how you missed that one. I watched it with my kids and when it came on my hair stood on end. It was that good! And funny! Story? Well it’s Disney. I liked it. It corny, romantic, sentimental, etc. Still, it is so much better than Frozen, they’re not even comparable. The songs, as well. You’re welcome.

    • Shiny……Let’s see if it is nominated for an Oscar. Doubt it.

      Still stand by what I said and if anything my review goes into detail more than most that I have read. At least it’s honest. I’m not going to sugar coat how I feel because it’s Disney. And I find problems with almost every movie I review, doesn’t mean I dont like it. People are going to have different opinions, doesn’t make it the worst opinion.

      I have listened to Shiny a few times after this review and it’s not a bad song. Guess it grows on you, like a fungus. Kidding…. maybe not. The way the movie was done, I just dont feel that Tomatoa and that sequence belonged in the movie. Still dont know why they kept it in because Maui could have found much more exciting and interesting ways to get his hook back.

      Why does Tamatoa even talk? Heihei, Pua,The Kakamora, The Lava Monster and Te Fiti didn’t talk. Would rather it have been a giant crab that didn’t talk…or sing. Would rather have seen a battle similar to when Hercules faced the Hydra. Still could make it a giant crab but not one that was in love with shiny things and sang. That’s kind of lame.

      And like I have said many times, I’m not the only one to have felt this way about the song and the sequence.

      Glad you enjoyed the movie.

      • Tamatoa was also the Reason Moana found out Maui had been abandoned by humans, giving him the reason to take the Heart, giving reason for Moana’s Journey, the whole movie. The song is greatly weird and actually pretty dark there at the end but most Disney movies have those parts. Everyone has an opinion and I also go with; It should be there one.

    • I agree with James. I bought the soundtrack immediately. I thought Shiny was probably the best song on it next to We Know the Way. This movie gave me goosebumps and I (and my children) cannot wait for it to come out on DVD. Shiny was written in the style of Glam Rock. It was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tribute to David Bowie. I thought it was an inventive way to introduce different styles of music to kids. All in all, it’s obvious this movie was geared more towards progressive, forward-thinkers than the traditionalist.

    • Well said James, Shiny is musically exceptional, and written perfectly for Jemaine Clement’s style (see Flight of the Conchords). I can see how it may be off-putting to anyone that doesn’t really understand glam rock. All in all great movie, and FYI “hiney” is one of the more comical words for butt, great choice!

  • Agree with your review. I got the sense that Lin-Manuel just wanted to have a villain song for the sake of a villain song.
    When put side by side to Poor Unfortunate Souls, Gaston, Mine, Prince Ali (Reprise), Be Prepared etc. it doesn’t stack up.
    It’s like Le Poisson from the Little Mermaid, a song stuck in to cover up a dead space in the movie.

    • Thanks Ned. And I agree with you about the songs you mentioned from other Disney classics. Le Poisson is an excellent example that you made. Similar with Morning Report with the Special Edition of The Lion King. Wasnt needed. Was better left out.

      A friend of mine had seen Moana recently and he said that he really enjoyed it but when that giant crab showed up, it felt like another movie. And that song did not fit. I told him to read my review and he got back to me and said, great minds think alike.

  • Completely disagree with the author appreciation of the songs. Shiny was the best one, followed by You’re welcome, less interesting musically but funny with great visuals and fitting Maui character perfectly. All the other one were disneyish in a boring, insipid way: I could not remember any of them for more than 5 minutes, but worse, they were distracting me from the movie, a pity since it was a very good disney, with incredible visuals…Seems that there is 2 strongly opposed camps here, which is not surprising given how different the songs are.

  • Sorry, I cannot let you get away with the insane statement that Shiny (one of my all time favorite Disney songs) is “awful”.
    When I first saw Tamatoa I thought his design was out of place in the movie, then found myself loving the entire piece. It was creative, lush, and funny as hell.
    After leaving the theatre our daughter was humming a tune in the car on the way back home. At first my wife and I couldn’t figure out what it was, then realized it was Shiny!
    We’ve seen the movie several times now and have memorized the entire song. My daughter loves it and we sing the song together when it comes on. That sir, says it all.
    What’s “boring” are arrogant contrarians like you trying to make waves on the internet.
    As an illustrator I’d be happy to give you some drawing lessons then perhaps you’d have some appreciation for the creative side of things instead of spewing nonsense about other folks’ creative endeavors.

    • Juan, it’s opinion. If you and your family like Shiny, that’s great. I don’t, and I know people that dislike it a lot more than I do.

      I met a friend recently that had seen Moana. He said he enjoyed the film, but he asked me, what was that Shiny song doing in there? Both his wife and he were turned off by the inclusion of Shiny in the film and felt like me, that the whole Tamatoa scene felt out of place. He is also a professional musician and it made me feel good that he felt the same way as I did.

      I watched the Oscars last night and thought Auli’i Cravalho performance of “How Far I’ll Go” was just great. I really feel that deserved to win over City Of Stars. But why was Lin Manuel Miranda up there? He wasn’t singing, he was rapping, I guess. He really did not need to be up there other than to inflate his ego even more.

    • Let’s get a 10 year – old’s perspective… Like MINE

      As a child such as myself, “Butt Jokes” aren’t so bad. Please notice you are a grown man trying to comment on a CHILDREN’S movie! With only a G rating you need to consider the audience’s humor based off their age, for example, I used to like “Barney and Friends” but now, of course, I’m too old for that. In other words, your an adult, so you probably don’t care for butt jokes, but as a 10 year old, we find them funny! Also, in the middle of “Shiny” Maui finds his hook, witch is odviously one of the most important parts of the film. Where else would he get it? Walmart? Because I’m pretty sure there won’t be any convenient stores in the middle of the ocean

      • I love many Disney movies. It’s really hard to say which one is my favorite because there are so many great ones. It may be a children’s movie but I think most that are reading my review are adults and I am writing it from an adults perspective. As soon as I saw Zootopia, I couldnt wait to see it again and again. I couldnt say that about Moana, even though I liked it.

        Now that I have the movie at home, I have watched it 3 times. It’s definitely a good movie. I think the animation is really impressive. Some of the best that I have seen. Watching the sky change from dawn to day to dusk to night is a really cool subtle effect that they do. Definitely look at the sky during most of the scenes and how it changes as they are sailing. It’s very impressive and love that they focused on stuff like that. Love how they animated the water too. I still think the music is very weak for a Disney movie. Nothing is very memorable. Would never by the soundtrack. I’m not sure if you heard the music they cut out. Wow. Really, really bad stuff and I am so glad they cut it out.

        I was listening to the directors commentary on the Blu-ray. They talk about the toilet humor that they used. They said that normally they stay away from toilet humor but decided to put some in. They even said there was a lot more toilet humor and they cut it out. But I still say that the small amounts of toilet humor could have been cut out. Like I said, I love Despicable Me and that is filled with toilet humor and a lot of it is very funny. Zootopia has some toilet humor in there too but it’s a different animal. I love Zootopia and that is such a great movie. I just feel that a movie like Moana doesn’t need it. For the most part of the movie it was very serious, until Maui came along. He was comic relief but didnt find him funny. And I do think that The Rock was too much The Rock in this. Think they should have gone with someone else. I feel a lot of the emotional parts would have worked better if they had a better actor. Wall-E was a lot funnier that Maui and he didn’t speak.

        Last week I watched 101 Dalmatians, the animated one, and that movie still holds up. There is no toilet humor other than when the dogs need to go out for walks. But I still find a lot of the scenes in that movie very funny. I just think Disney should hold itself to a higher standard especially when telling a mythological tale. Anyway, that’s how I feel.

        The Shiny part. That whole section looks incredible but I still say it doesnt belong. It feels out of place to me. Maui could have gotten the hook almost anywhere. He could have fought scarier monsters instead of a giant talking crab. I noticed while watching it again, there was a part that showed there were other demons that were after the heart other than Tomatoa and The Kakamora. I think they should have left them in and have Maui and Moana work to defeat them to make it more like a real quest. But it makes me feel that they had some problems with the movie too. I listened to the directors commentary during Shiny and they said that Miranda wrote it as a homage to Le Poisons from The Little Mermaid, where now the crab was chasing the human. I liked that idea. But, I still think the song is bad, especially the lyrics. They also said that Shiny was one of the last things they did and that there were different versions of Tomatoa. So it appeared the directors may have been having problems with the character. My favorite song now is You’re Welcome but The Rock cant sing. He tries to hit the high note when he says the word, “Say” and he never reaches it. Too bad.

        Moana is a good movie but I think it needed more time for the directors to work on it. Lot of great parts in it, especially the first section of the movie, but felt it could have been better too.

        • look, Disney made this film for kids, so all they have to do is make KIDS like it! Moui gets a blowdart in his butt and I laugh… Disney wins!

          • Disney does make movie for kids but they also want it to transcend all ages so that everyone can enjoy it. I’ve watched it a few more times but still dont get the feel that I received from other Disney classics. Who knows how it will age? It could be become a real classic.

            As far as the potty humor, it wasnt that bad. I guess when I saw it in theaters, I saw the short first and that had potty humor in it too and felt it was too much.

  • You don’t address the inability for Moana to hit the high notes in “How Far I’ll Go.” I love the song and it’s really the only memorable song from the movie but the more I listen to it the more I realize she doesn’t hit the high note and now it bugs the hell out of me. Also toilet humor is hilarious keep it up!

    • Now that you mention it, I guess you are right about that. I still like her version a lot though but get what you are saying. Kind of funny that it has grown to bug the hell out of you.

      Still not sold on toilet humor. It’s not a big deal, but think they could have done without it.

  • Joe the first time I watched the movie, I agreed with you. Since we purchased it and have watched it repeatedly with both boys I have to say the song we all keep going back to and looking towards is “Shiny. ” It has real staying power and Jemaine is brilliant in it. Some of the best comedic lines from the whole movie are in that scene, and we cannot get enough.
    As a person born in ’82 and growing up during Disney’s golden age, I find myself loving Moana as much, if not more, than some of my Disney favorites. For me, top three of all time are: Finding Dory, the Lion King, then Moana.

    • YAASSSSS!! Someone who gets it! Tamatoa is AWESOME!!! All the haters just don’t know what to do with different! I didn’t like it one bit at first, but he grew on me and he is my absolute favorite! Why is there no Tamatoa merch???

  • Reviewer states Tamatoa character is “…dumb”. Has a professional musician friend that confirms his opinion. Says he knows many folks that agree that Shiny isn’t good. Why is he trying so hard to get us to confirm his bias? Over and over and over again in the comments section.

    Is this whole thing satire?

  • OBVIOUSLY, you have no kids and no reason to repeat this movie!!! If you did, you would grow to love Tamatoa. I admit it, when I first heard it, I hated it. Now, by far, Tamatoa is the highlight of the movie. It was weird and different, but it’s really genius. The entire soundtrack is awesome, and much more than Frozen because “it’s Beautiful Baaaby” (had to) Frozen has a cute soundtrack, but Moana’s is a little more grown and I enjoy repeating it in the car over (and over, and over) without feeling like I need Elsa to make me an ice pick so I can stab my ear drums. Get to know Tamatoa, he’ll def grow on you. Love this entire movie, every bit of it.

  • All told, I agree that the music in the movie is bad. And I would go further, saying it is perhaps the worse soundtrack ever with Shiny the worse song ever. It would be bad even for broadway which half of which is indeed full of tortured non-harmonious music. Hawaiian culture can lend some great emotionally fulfilling musical scores, but this movie just failed at capturing any string of harmonious notes.

  • Thank you, I finally watched this movie and completely agree with this writing. The music was not at all up to par with what a Disney movie ought to be. Nothing catchy to speak of, nothing memorable at all. The main song, “How far I go”, way over played. Story awesome, but also agree with Maui character. Mr. Johnson is fine being Mr. Johnson, but not the Hawaiian Superman he was supposed to be. Maui is a sacred revered character, and this movie nearly completely dishonored Maui.
    Well my two cents for what it’s worth.

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