Moana is one of my favorite Disney movies, period. The animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy, and the story is heartfelt without being sappy, and familiar without being contrived.
If you missed this one when it came out in late 2016 — a time when I really needed a comforting movie — the story is about a young woman (Auli'i Cravalho), who’s chosen to find the banished demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and enlist his help to save her island. After leaving the theater, I tweeted that her adventure is reminiscent of a Legend of Zelda video game, and I stand by that; this movie captures the exact same type of wonder those games instill.
Moana herself is an impressive, memorable character, so much so that I wish the film didn’t tongue-in-cheekily describe her as a “princess”; so many Disney princesses are so much less interesting that it feels like lampshading — you’re still putting her in this box even if you’re doing it with a meta wink. And the songs, all of which were written or co-written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda while he was still on Broadway, are superb.
I definitely recommend this movie, and specifically I demand you watch it on a very large screen in HD. Singing along is optional. ★★★★½