The musical stylings of Lin-Manuel Miranda soar in Moana. The cartoon is a Heroic Journey of the eponymous Polynesian Princess; she seeks to return a sacred jewel to an island to restore order to the seas. Per The Hero Journey paradigm, Moana initially refuses her call to adventure, then receives supernatural aid from the seas, crosses the threshold during a tempest, meets with a god, who himself refuses the call to adventure, and so on. One of us was less than engrossed by the predictable narrative, while one of us cheered at every turn of the plot. What stood out for both of us were the musical numbers, whether by an ostentatious crab or a demigod. The lyrics were smart, and the songs were catchy, moving, and fun. Woo.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White