Tuesday, November 29, 2016

There is nowhere you could go, that I won't be with you.

In fifth grade we had this lady named Kumu Liana as our Hawaiian Studies teacher. She had light brown skin and wore a straw hat with a lone red and black feather sticking out of one side. Even as a kid I knew she wore too much makeup, sure, but it wasn't the local legend's looks that dazzled me. It was her recounting of many legends of the Pacific. She was an incredible storyteller.

And while she certainly looked and sounded the part, the next year we would get Kumu Pili, an oddly effeminate Asian man, likely in his early twenties. Kumu Pili didn't appear to be someone that would tell you an epic story of religion and humanity, but rather someone who would gently knock and your door and give you a pamphlet about one instead.

But even the Good Book shouldn't be judged by its cover, as Kumu Pili would tell my sixth grade class the most insanely riveting story of the gods and goddesses of Polynesia and Hawai'i, He never consulted any notes, never stammered or stuttered one bit. He just glided into the room, sat down, and spun a tale that we didn't believe...

...and couldn't forget.

Disney's latest animated feature, Moana is a lot like one a lesson from Kumu Pili, except, well, he didn't break into (an impossibly catchy) song every nine minutes. Set on and around the fictional island of Motunui, the latest Disney tale celebrating girl power checks all the boxes we've come to expect. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Moana is your typically antsy teenager, finding herself trapped in the purgatory of burgeoning freedom at the same time her family is asking the most from her. Somewhat luckily (for her), she gets to finally leave home, but only in a desperate attempt to save her dying homeland. The Gods are angry for some reason, and it's up to this relentless young woman to set things straight. First stop? Find the jerkface responsible for this whole mess in the first place.

That dude just so happens to be a demigod by the name of Maui, and he isn't exactly psyched to see Moana. Yeah, he's a legendary figure responsible for many of the gifts bestowed upon mankind, but he's also a legendary jerk. A huge one, actually (uh, in just about every sense of the word). Begrudgingly, he signs up for Moana's mission, but only after she convinces him he'll be worshiped because of it.

Weak move, bra. For reals.

While I was tapping my foot along with all the musical numbers and enjoying just about everything Moana had to offer, eventually my enthusiasm made like my chances of ever moving back to Hawai'i, and vanished altogether. It's a sweet if familiar tale, told about a group of characters that I hold near and dear, sure, but it's not as much fun as thought it was going to be. Even my little ones started to fade at about the ninety-minute mark.

I'm pretty sure if you combined all the girls I went to high school with,
you'd get someone who looks just like this. (and I'd embarrass myself in front of her, too)
Also making people of all ages drowsy, are the Yays and Boos. We've been on a bit of a cinematic upswing as of late (five movies in a row? What's the opposite of the cha-ching sound?), so maybe it's all that popped corn and delicious carbonated poison that's turning me into a joyless wanker.

These little weirdos might be my favorite characters. Maybe.
But their big battle scene? Definitely my favorite. No doubt.
  • Surprising no one, the little short before hand was awesome. Who knew that wasn't going to be the only film we'd see that day where someone pees in the ocean.
  • Dude, that Fire Demon slightly terrified my daughter. I was scared too. By how awesome it was.
  • Find me something more adorable that toddler Moana protecting baby sea turtles and well, uh...just don't okay? 
  • Heihei, likely the dumbest animal on the planet, actually wore me down with his one-note shtick. I was ready to hate him after awhile, but he comes up pretty frickin' huge, I must say. Too bad, you know? He'd probably taste amazing huli-huli style. *Homer Simpson drool noises*
  • That pig was pretty adorable, too. I didn't want to eat him, exactly, but man, if you ever get the chance? You should totally build an imu in your backyard and jam a wrapped pig in it. Goodness.
  • As I mentioned earlier, the music is all kinds of rad. While I tend to always like the first song the best (before the fatigue sets in), I have to put my hands together for The Rock singing You're Welcome. I'm not sure how he did it, but Dwayne Johnson just got cooler.
  • It almost goes without saying at this point, but the animation is uniformly gorgeous. Two things that stood out? The glow-in-the-dark stingray and Maui's hair...when it's covered in sand.
  • Oh, and speaking of luxurious locks, Troy Polamalu has a small role in this one. Troy. Polamalu. (and I hate the Steelers...but dude, it's Troy. Polamalu.)
  • The ancient definition of tweeting is way cooler than the contemporary one. I gotta try that.
  • And finally, Te Fiti, the beautiful goddess. Whoa. Not only is she gorgeous when she's angry, but when she finalls calms down? The grass ain't the only thing that's growing, you feel me? 
Booing Jemaine Clement is sacreligious, I know.
But...guys. He's done this character 100 times now.
(and this movie didn't need to be any longer)
  • Wait, that one big Polynesian dude had a British accent? Huh? Should I boo the dreaded 'whitewashing' or the fact that I never really learned anything in school?
  • No fish in the islands is just about the worst thing ever. Well, outside of a hurricane. Or tsunami. Or earthquake. Or volcanic eruption.
  • Everyone is happy living their entire life on the island. Everyone except Moana. Uh, I hear ya girl. I do. But....
  • So, Maui, right? Um. Pretty much a total bastard, isn't he?
  • Okay, what's with the secret cave of...secrets? Seems like more people would, I don't know, instantly discover all that's back there.
  • Hey, guess what? You know that family member that really gets the free-spirited Moana. Don't get too attached to her. Also, be ready to have the conversation with your little kids about that magical place in the sky: Cloud City.
  • As cool as Maui looks and all, he kind of reminds me of all the guys I was scared of in the Taco Bell parking lot. I'm pretty sure their tattoos didn't dance and do cool stuff. Not that I was staying to find out...
  • Hey, Water. You're pretty awesome, like, 90% of the time. But, well, where were you at the end, bra? Prolly could've helped Moana against ol' Lava Monster, you know?
  • Honestly, I feel like I should love this movie unquestionably (like I do Lilo & Stitch)...but I don't. And the whole theater, of dirty Pennsylvanians? They applauded!
  • And finally, did you eve play Wind Waker? It's like the best Nintendo game ever, right? Until you realize that even though it looks amazing, you've been sailing these damn seas forever.
Whoa. It's pretty late and I've got my own class full of kids waiting to hear some incredible story in the morning. If only there was one word that could just tie this whole review and my thoughts about it together. I've got nothing. I mean, what word expresses love and gratitude and also closure, too? 

I've got nothing. But I remember what Kumu Pili said when his story was finished. 



  1. Guys you were afraid of in the Taco Bell Parking lot. LOL. Around here, pervs hang out at Taco Bell and try to hit on teenage girls.

    We're taking our son to see this on the weekend, and I had no idea it was a musical. My husband is going to hate that.

    and I'm not gonna warn him.

    1. I'm telling you, our local Taco Bell? It had this creepy, poorly lit parking lot behind it and I'm sure all kinds of messed up stuff went down. And big Hawaiian dudes are no joke. *shudder*

      I hope you guys like it, though I'm not sure it's the greatest Disney film ever as some would suggest...but it's a good time.

      (That's cold not telling your husband, sure, but something I totally support too. I mean, who wants to ruin such a lovely surprise?)

    2. He actually really liked it. I was surprised, he usually checks the fuck out of newer musicals. I loved it too. I'll be listening to How Far I'll Go on repeat now. lol

    3. I'm stoked that your little guy liked it. Especially considering that it's absolutely loaded with music. I gotta check out How Far I'll Go again. Is that the one where she's leaving the island? Is that a dumb question?

  2. I'll probably see this with my kid soon. She's right on the cusp of being too old to get excited about kids movies. *Sniff*

    1. Aww...yeah, my little girl was pretty pumped to see this one. Matty is a couple of months into 7, so he's on the verge of not being psyched for 'kid movies'. Good thing we've still got Star Wars, right?

      But, hey. Maybe in twenty years they'll come around...and will be psyched for animation and stuff. Me? I'll just be excited to be alive.