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Moana (2D/3D)


Stars: Voices: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Director: John Musker, Ron Clements

A simply smashing Disney cartoon feature to entertain all ages, full of throbbing Hawaiian rhythms and Broadway-style songs - admittedly none of them memorable, but still outstandingly well performed. And it was nice getting a real Hawaiian girl to play the title role, even if she does sound a bit like every other American teenager.

The girl in question is Moana (pronounced Mow-arner), happy on her Pacific island, with cocoanuts and fish her staple diet. But Moana is drawn to the sea, as her father (Morrison), the tribal chief, once was; as a toddler, she saved a baby turtle from marauding birds and so became the ocean's friend (stop giggling and go with the flow). The briny also gives her a glowing green stone.

When the island's resources begin to dwindle and plants die, Moana decides to take the stone and travel beyond the reef to restore the 'heart' to its rightful place (where that is would be telling), from whence it was stolen by the demi-god Maui (Johnson).

Maui proves to look like a multi-tattooed (they come to life) sumo wrestler. He in turn is looking for his magic fishhook, which enabled him to change into many forms, but was stolen by Tamatoa (Clement), a fire-god colossus.

Soi the reluctant fellow-voyagers set sail, with only an idiot chicken (Tudyk) for company. Maui turns out to be an entertaining fellow, with his own song (Welcome) and you just know he'll come back to help Moana take on Tamatoa just when he has seemingly deserted her.

Somewhat after Kubo and the Two Strings in style - they both have wise old grannies too - the film is rushed along in fine fashion, and makes bracing and sometimes exciting entertainment that may also induce a lump in the throat at emotive moments.

Best joke: when Maui uses the chicken's beak to scratch a message on a stone, and tells Moana that 'When we use a bird to write a message, it's called tweeting.'

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Nov 2016