We’ve all got them. That crazy uncle (or maybe whole families?) who can make holiday meals painful. But you still go to the Thanksgiving meal hoping that this year things might be different. I’m going to straight up suggest that you plan your exit strategy now— and that it should include watching Moana, playing in theaters nationwide.
Why am I so pessimistic?
Have you met 2016?
It’s been kinda a jerk. I mean, it took both David Bowie and Snape and gave us one of the most GAH-worthy of presidential elections ever.
Forgive me, but I think Thanksgiving 2016 with extended family might not plus it up much. No offense, family. It’s just been that kind of year.
Go! Get out and be free! Go see Moana instead!
5 Reasons Why Watching Moana Is Better Than Crazy Uncle Lou
1. Moana is the best. She isn’t going to talk politics, even though she’s a chieftain’s daughter. Do NOT call her a princess, by the way. This is not (exactly) that kind of Disney movie.
She’s going to entertain you, she’ll capture your heart, she’ll make you laugh, she’ll have you cheering, and best of all, she’ll have you believe in the good of people again.
And bonus: I didn’t catch a single mention or hint of marrying this girl off. Like, not even a joke about when she gets married and has a son or whatever. Her parents were only focused on her and her job as future Chief.
A+ parenting, mom and dad!
As a heroine, she’s as good as a second helping of pumpkin pie after changing into your fat pants.
And the voice of Moana, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, can SING. She’s amazing.
2. The music: oh. my. word. It will transport you to the Pacific Island of your dreams.
I’ve been dreaming of Hawaii lately so seeing this movie was a no-brainer. Now what was once a simple desire has grown into a full-blown bucket list line item. And the music from this movie got me there.
Hawaii, watch out. The Mainlanders are coming. I expect there will be some Frozen-esque interest in vacations after this movie.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the talented man behind Broadway hits In the Heights and Hamilton: An American Musical is a key player in the Moana soundtrack. And right now, he’s pretty much my bae.
I wish he was coming to my relative’s house for Thanksgiving, but last I checked, that was sadly not happening.
Back to the music: my daughter and I left the movie theater dancing and singing. And I never do that. Music just isn’t my thing.
But “How Far I’ll Go” is our favorite, and I’m not going to be surprised if it turns into the next “Let It Go”.
Today I said I wasn’t going to buy the full soundtrack, but dang it, after purchasing 5 songs and listening to them for a couple of hours I needed more.
Moana Deluxe Soundtrack on repeat. Trust me, it’s useless to resist: go ahead and spend $15 on some of the most uplifting and spiritually moving songs you’ll ever listen to.
3. Grandma Tala is a gem. She isn’t the crazy relative, even though she wants us to believe she is. She’s the village elder who knows what’s what.
I think we’d all fight to sit next to her at Thanksgiving dinner if she was part of our family.
She encourages Moana to stay true to herself, which is the primary message in Moana.
Scenes revolving around Tala brought all the tears and the feels and were perfection. PERFECTION, y’all. When you see the movie you’ll know which one in particular I’m talking about.
4. The visuals- swoon! Speaking of favorite scenes, I was riveted to the beauty of this film. Remember the opening scene of Lion King and the ballroom dance of Beauty and the Beast? Chills the first time I saw them.
Moana is that level of WOW— throughout the whole movie. The water, the land, the characters (which, by the way, include the water and the land!) evoked emotion that I hadn’t felt for a long time.
I was so happy to see it wasn’t lost and that Lucy, my 5-year-old, will grow up with this level of storytelling.
At this Thanksgiving meal, I’ll be sure to throw a little love your way: Thank you for enriching my children’s childhoods, Disney.
5. Maui- what’s not to love? He’s a demi-god with the voice & swagger of Dwayne Johnson.
Do I need to go further? Because, daannnnng.
I give him big props for pulling off the voice & spirit of Maui. I imagine voice acting to be challenging for an actor known for his physicality and action movies. And he rapped on “You’re Welcome,” y’all. And it’s pretty dang good!
Can you smeeeelllll what Maui is cooking? They even snuck a People’s Eyebrow in there.
In fact, I think dropping a Dwayne Johnson reference is all you need to leave an uncomfortable family meal.
“Excuse me, I need to go. The Rock is waiting for me,” is a perfectly acceptable way to get away from Crazy Uncle Lou.
This one is good for the whole family. There are mildly tense scenes of action that I suppose a young and sensitive child may react to, but overall I didn’t think anything terrifying stood out. There is a death in the family, but it’s handled beautifully and is not threatening or scary for younger children.
And go ahead and download some of these Moana activities for your kids. While the adults are cheering on insert-your-sports-team-here after dinner, let the kiddos have some Moana inspired fun!
Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
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Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.