A few weeks ago, we had our first-ever family movie night. Our daughter, Lyra, recently turned two, and I suspected she was ready to sit through an entire kid’s movie. We chose Moana, as my husband and I are big fans of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote most of the film’s music. We poured some red, made a bowl of popcorn, and settled in on the couch together.
Guys. I honestly can’t remember a more enjoyable evening. My squirmy toddler let me cuddle her close for the entire movie, her attention laser-focused on the film as we were sucked into the magic. We instantly fell in love with the music, clapping along and bouncing in our seats. Lyra adorably shouted “Oh, no! Oh, no!” during all the action sequences, followed by smiles of relief when the characters made it through the danger unscathed. As the ending credits rolled, I took a moment to pull her a little closer and inhale the smell of her hair. I couldn’t remember the last time she let me hold her for so long. The combination of cuddles, family time, an incredible movie (and, okay, the wine) left me feeling more relaxed and happy than I’d been in months.
When Lyra asked to watch it again the next night, I couldn’t resist. So we watched it again. And again. And every single night for nine straight nights. And I wasn’t even sick of it. Here are my six favorite things about Moana.
- The animation is stunning. I love Disney’s scrupulous attention to detail in capturing the beauty of water, sand, shells, and sky. We watched a segment in the special features about all the work that went into creating realistic hair on the characters. I mean, months of work for hair!
- The music is infectious. Man, they sure made an incredible choice in giving this job to Lin-Manuel Miranda. They hired him before the immense success of Hamilton became part of mainstream culture, and he truly brings a new level of musicality to Disney. I find myself singing Moana tunes around the house constantly, which only becomes a problem when Lyra recognizes the song and begs to watch the movie again. Fine by me! You’re welcome.
- The main character is a woman of color. Props to Disney for finally working on its diversity problem. Sure, there’s a bit of Polynesian cultural appropriation happening, but they were at least aiming for respect and authenticity.
- Moana doesn’t fall in love. I find the absence of a love story extremely refreshing. Moana don’t need no man! Future Chiefs have more important things to do sometimes, like restoring the heart of Te Fiti and saving the world, yo.
- The story line centers on personal growth and realizing one’s own potential. Moana never has a self-confidence problem; this isn’t the story of a timid girl finally overcoming her immense insecurity or shame. She is determined, strong, and ambitious from the very start, without apology. And when she needs a little boost, it’s her grandmother who helps her remember how capable she is. Moana is an excellent role model for kids.
- It’s enjoyable for both kids and adults. If I’m going to watch the same movie 50+ times, it had better be entertaining for both adults and kids. Have you watched anything on Cartoon Network recently? It’s so annoying I feel like my brain is about to bleed. Frenetic, chaotic, choppy, absurd. Most of the content made for kids is utterly insufferable for adults. I don’t know how they do it, but Disney knows how to make films truly enjoyable for the whole family. In fact, I think our next family movie night will feature Toy Story. (Don’t remind me it was my idea two weeks from now when we’ve watched it approximately 20 times.)
Anyone else got a case of Moana Fever?