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Greetings and wel(ow)come to this month’s (ow) review of (ow) Disney’s latest animated (ow) feature Mo(ow)ana. I hope you’re (ow) as excited as I am (ow).
Have you ever had carpal tunnel, Cynicism?
How could I forget?
Don’t worry, I got this. Frankly it’s my own fault anyway. Remember how in school the teacher would make you copy lines starting with “I will not” for hours so you’d never do what you did to earn that punishment again? I set out to do that before writing this review of Moana so that way my fair judgement wouldn’t be clouded by…certain musical preferences.
There’s no point in repeating how much 2016 sucked donkey balls, but I can rest easy knowing what a red letter year it was for the world’s foremost musical laureate, Lin-Manuel Miranda. He was already established on the Broadway circuit for his Tony-winning show In The Heights and providing an authentic Spanish translation for the Puerto Rican Sharks in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, but the runaway success of Hamilton quickly established him as the poetic voice of our time. It’s no surprise that Disney scooped him up as quickly as possible. When I found out he was going to be writing the songs for Moana, my excitement for this movie tripled. In addition to that, Lin is scheduled to voice Gizmoduck in the Ducktales reboot, play
Bert 2.0 Jack in the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel, and work with Alan Menken on new songs for the live-action Little Mermaid remake. Lin is already a major Disney fan and proud of it (he even named his son Sebastian), so on top of winning all the Tonys and Emmys and Grammys and Pulitzers, working with Disney is a dream come true for him. And once you hear the songs from Moana, you know he put his damndest into making them worthy of being sung along with the classic tunes he grew up with. The best part? He succeeded. Had it not been for La La Land he most likely would have become a PEGOT winner five months ago. To come so far in such a short amount of time with his talent and work ethic, the man freaking deserves it.
But I can’t attribute all of Moana’s success to Lin. Not only is there a crack team of animators, effects artists, and storyboard artists that would take too long to name individually, but after a nearly ten-year absence from Disney animation, John Musker and Ron Clements have returned to the director’s chair. These two guys are pretty much responsible for the Disney Renaissance AND the current Revival period we’re in, having provided their trademark knack for story and humor to The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. Despite their efforts to make Moana Disney’s first feature fully animated in Meander, which near-seamlessly combines hand-drawn and computer animation (and was used to create the Oscar-winning short Paperman), they were forced to compromise and make it all CGI – with one welcome exception. This marks their first foray into the medium, but does that mean visual quality is put before story and character? Can it be considered worthy of being a Musker/Clements movie, let alone a Disney movie? Let’s find out.