Disney’s ‘Moana’ looks like a Dwayne Johnson-driven Hawaiian delight

06.12.16 1 year ago

Dwayne Johnson plus Hawaii plus Lin-Manuel Miranda equals a very, very on-board house full of film fans here at Casa de McWeeny.

Hamilton is a mainstay in our car. I have heard the entire album with the boys at least a dozen times, and bits and pieces countless times beyond that. Toshi wrote his final essay of the year about Alexander Hamilton just so he had an excuse to quote some of the songs in class. Hawaii is also a big touchstone for us, something we”ve shared as a family repeatedly, and where we've had some of our happiest moments. And Dwayne Johnson… well, at this point, who doesn”t love Johnson? He”s as dependable and self-aware a movie star as we have right now, and he”s genuinely the nicest guy in the entire business.

I like the idea of Disney playing with Polynesian mythology, as long as it”s respectful, and there”s no reason to think it will be anything but. I wish they”d realize as a studio that Song Of The South is entirely justifiable as a way of bringing to life an authentic American mythology, something that should be celebrated and preserved and not hidden in their vaults. I am not intimately familiar with the story of Maui, and so I”m looking forward to their take on why this demigod matters, and I'm excited to see where it leads Toshi in his reading, something that is often influenced by what he's watching.

We just saw Pixar”s latest yesterday, and the short film beforehand, Piper, is not only sweet and funny, but a technical knockout. I am not sure there will be any way to convey the feeling of being a generation who went from seeing Ray Harryhausen”s films in theaters to seeing the cutting-edge work being done right know in things like Warcraft and The BFG and in these gorgeous animated films from both Pixar and Disney. There is so much powerful beauty being created that it”s a little overwhelming. I worry sometimes we may be robbing young audiences of an ability to appreciate wonder.

But then I see that what really speaks to my own kids and what seems to be a common thread in many of the most beloved cultural events these days is genuinely good storytelling that speaks to something in our common humanity. That”s what I want when I see a film about a culture that isn”t mine. I want to be invited in. I want to learn and experience things through new eyes. I want to see more and more storytelling from voices that are not just like mine. I look forward to this, and I hope it delivers on the potential of the individual elements involved.

We”ll find out when Moana arrives in theaters on November 23, 2016.

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