“If you wear a dress, and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”


Thus does Disney justify its tradition of princesses living on. Whilst Pixar looked south of the border to Mexico for Coco‘s inspiration, Disney Animation Studios ventured a little further to the Pacific Islands for Moana, which teaches us that it’s not the size of your boat but whether you’re chosen by the ocean. Moana draws principally from Polynesian folklore about the trickster Māui, where a strong oral tradition leaves it perhaps at greater risk of being subsumed by the Disney machine in the absence of fixed versions of any tale. It is welcome, then, that the Islanders’ historic seafaring tradition of wayfinding and outrigger canoes also plays a central role, along with a score that reflects their musical heritage. The expected Disney musical numbers are satisfying, though the only standout is How Far I’ll Go (particularly as performed by Alessia Cara over the credits).