Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Bringing a new movie into the house is always a roll of the dice.

I never know if the kids are going to want to watch it.

Pete's DragonTake Pete’s Dragon for instance. I brought this one home, thinking it was a no brainer. They like fantasy flicks and what is more fantastical than having a dragon show up in your modern-day life.

We never watched it because the first words out of the kids’ mouth were “You know that is on Netflix.” It sat on the shelf because I meant to watch it and never did. Guess I will have to stream it some night – by myself.

However, that was not the reaction when I brought Moana in the house. The box was taken out of my hands and placed in the machine before I could put away my work things and grab my slice of pizza.

The story is about a girl who lives in on an island in Polynesia. But their island is dying and Moana believes she is the one to save it by getting the heart of the Godess returned to her.

Moana

It requires finding the demi-god Maui, and making him return the heart. But Maui is not honorable or likable. He tries to strand Moana until the ocean, her special friend, makes it clear that Moana goes with him. Through their adventures and going on some dangerous missions Moana and Maui develop a friendship.

And what a journey it is.

I watched this movie a couple of times in bits and pieces, each time finding something else to like. Moana and Maui are complex characters who are enjoyable to watch. Moana is given a family who actually love and adore her but community rules prevent sailing beyond the barrier reef. Maui is a demigod who has made life easier for humans but he appears to have some issues that need to be resolved.

I also liked that Moana is another Disney character that does not need a male romantic partner. Similar to Moira (Brave) and Elsa (Frozen), Moana wants to do great things but not in the way her parents want. Her issue is that her island appears to be dying and she knows great dangers must be faced to make things better.

I know there are some complaints about this movie not being completely culturally accurate. But it can also inspire a kid to look up information about Polynesian culture and discover what the Long Pause was all about. It might steer kids to wanting to know more about the demigod Maui and the Goddess Te Fiti. That is what a good movie should do – inspire and encourage.

Finally, I have to talk about the music. Lin-Manuel Miranda is credited as a song-writer on this film and he has made some amazing music. Various songs reminded me of his hit musical, Hamilton, but as I listened to more songs separately I realized that there are many good pieces here. And it makes me wonder what we will hear from him next.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.