The first act of Disney’s latest animated musical will cause you to wonder what everyone is raving about. Moana begins like every other adventure of a Disney princess. Moana (v. Auli'i Cravalho), the daughter of a Polynesian chieftain, seeks to save her island and the world after demigod Maui (v. Dwayne Johnson) messes everything up by stealing the relic of a goddess.
Once Moana leaves the island, the film becomes a magical Disney adventure to rival Frozen. Moana is every bit the tough girl princess that Merida of Brave was meant to be. Johnson’s Maui may wind up the most memorable character/voice-actor combo since Robin Williams’ Genie in Aladdin. The songs by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'I and Mark Mancina are not standouts, but the showstoppers—“How Far I’ll Go,” Johnson’s rollicking “You’re Welcome” and Jemaine Clement’s “Shiny”—will certainly fuel some family sing-alongs. A new classic, Moana jumps to the head of the class in an already stellar year of animated films.