Tag Archives: Moana

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

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Considering that I’m a lifelong Disney nerd, I’ve been pretty terrible at catching most of their recent films. I still haven’t seen Tangled (2010, The Princess and the Frog (2009) nor have I seen Frozen (2013) (shocking I know). But when I saw the previews for Moana, I was determined that at the very least I would see THIS one, and boy oh boy, I’m glad I did.

Moana is the first Polynesian Disney Princess and the youngest Disney Princess since Snow White. She is also the first Disney Princess to have no romantic sub-plot in her film whatsoever (which is fine with me).

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

From the moment I first watched this film in theaters, I fell in love with the soundtrack, which features songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (you know, of Hamilton fame) among others. And the first big song in the film is “Where You Are” which establishes daily life on the island of Motunui. Moana is (at the time) the toddler daughter of Chief Tui and Sina, and in a surreal encounter with the living presence of the ocean, is chosen to someday return the stolen heart of Te Fiti. Unaware of this, her well-meaning parents determine to do their best to raise Moana in such a way that she’ll never want to leave the island. This is the subject of “Where You Are.”


“Consider the coconut…” One of my favorite lines in the song

In this song, Tui and the others describe how the island provides everything they need for life: coconuts, fish from the lagoon, palm fronds to weave baskets and other materials, and “no one leaves.” The tone of the song is so happy that you almost don’t realize at first that the sentiment of no one EVER leaving is repeated multiple times. But Moana DOES want to leave, or at least, she wants to explore the ocean. But time and time again, her parents are there to head her off and push her back to the island’s interior, where, as she grows into a teenager, she is prepared to take her place as a young chief on the island.


Moana doesn’t seem particularly thrilled with this, but then she has an encounter with Grandmother Tala (Tui’s mother), who loves the ocean as much as Moana does, and together the two dance like the waves.


As time passes, Moana begins to finally accept that, while she does love the ocean, she can be happy on Motunui, she doesn’t have to leave, everything she needs is right here “where you are.” And you almost believe her, except for the side glances she still sends over to where Grandmother Tala is still dancing.

I still believe that Moana is one of the few Disney Princesses who is mostly content to remain in their situation for the good of the family (contrast her attitude by the end of “Where You Are” with, say, Mulan, Ariel or Belle). And maybe if things had stayed in the status quo, she really would have been happy. But of course, this is a Disney movie, things NEVER stay in the status quo for very long.

I feel like I haven’t done a Disney series in ages, so I’m happy to finally be starting up again with Moana. I hope you enjoyed reading about (and listening to) “Where You Are,” there is plenty more to come.

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See also:

Thoughts on Moana (2016)

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Thoughts on Moana (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.


WARNING! WARNING!: What follows is a full and complete summary of the film with every kind of spoiler under the sun!!!! DO NOT CONTINUE if you have not seen the film and don’t want to know what happens!!!

From the moment I saw the first teaser, I knew that Moana would knock the ball out of the park. Everything about this film felt right, but knowing that in advance still didn’t prepare me for seeing this gorgeous masterpiece (which I did on Saturday night).

Moana could very easily be the perfect Disney film (it’s at least equal to Beauty and the Beast, and you know what high regard I hold THAT film in), I could probably find a flaw if I nitpicked, but really nothing jumped out at me.


Moana “Where you Are” (2016)

The young Moana is the daughter of the village chief and will someday lead her people on the island of Motonui. Since she was a toddler, she has been fascinated by the ocean, but it’s a fruitless desire because her father (who means well), forbids anyone to sail beyond the reef at the edge of the island’s lagoon. This is because years ago, he and his friend snuck out beyond the reef in a small boat to explore and were caught in a storm. Moana’s father came back…his friend didn’t. As Moana gets older, she actually does a great job of suppressing her love of the ocean because she understands her responsibility as a future chief and she might have happily lived the rest of her days on the island….except things are starting to go wrong.


First the coconuts begin to spoil even before they’re harvested, and even worse, no one can find any fish in the lagoon, or anywhere within the reef. Moana believes she understands why this is happening: for years her grandmother has told the story of how the demi-god Maui stole the mystical heart of Te Fiti (a goddess considered the mother of all islands) and as a result, a dark blight has been spreading across the ocean, destroying everything it touches. And now, this blight has come to Motonui, but Moana’s father doesn’t want to believe it.

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana wants to help her people, but she’s not sure how, until her grandmother tells her a secret…her people didn’t always live on Motonui. A long time ago, they were sea voyagers, travelling the ocean in HUGE boats, sailing using only their knowledge of the stars and sea currents. But, due to the blight, boats eventually stopped returning, and it was decided to hide the boats away forever. But now, with the island in danger, the only way to save Motonui is to return the heart of Te Fiti, and the only way to do that is to sail far past the reef. Moana’s father won’t listen and actually wants to burn the boats, but then Moana’s grandmother (his mother) becomes deathly ill, and with some of her last words she urges Moana to go and do what must be done.

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Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

Taking a small canoe, Moana grabs some supplies and sets off to find Maui, and boy does she find him. Maui is a cocky demi-god, rather full of himself because in ages past he helped the humans by giving them fire, coconuts, various islands and other gifts. After much arguing, Moana convinces Maui to come with her to restore Te Fiti’s heart, but first they need to find Maui’s magic fish hook, a weapon that Maui uses to shapeshift into any form he chooses. Maui is certain his hook can be found in the realm of monsters, and it is…it just happens to be in the possession of a giant crab with a penchant for all things shiny and valuable. Moana and Maui do manage to retrieve the hook, but not before the crab reveals that Maui was abandoned by his family.


Moana “Shiny” (2016)

It turns out that Maui wasn’t born a demi-god, he was actually born a normal human to human parents. But for whatever reason, as soon as he was born, they abandoned him by throwing him into the sea. But he didn’t die…the gods found him and raised him, giving him the magic fish hook when he was grown.

Fish hook found, the pair sails on to Te Fiti, and along the way Maui teaches Moana all about how to sail. (I forgot to mention, before this, there was a hilarious encounter with Kakamora, basically pygmy sprites that resemble little coconuts. It’s hilarious and a little freaky all at the same time, but I loved it!!!) It’s not as simple as sailing up to the island and restoring the heart…there happens to be a fire demon named Te Kaa in the way.

Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

The first attempt to reach Te Fiti ends very badly. Moana believes she can slip the boat past Te Kaa before he swipes them out of the water, but Maui really wants to turn back. When Moana doesn’t listen, Maui is forced to use his fish hook directly against Te Kaa’s body: the resulting explosion blasts the boat far out to see, and critically damages the fish hook in the process. Believing his entire worth is wrapped up in the fish hook, Maui refuses to have anything more to do with Moana or the quest and takes off (literally, he turns himself into a giant hawk). Initially despondent, Moana resolves to continue on alone after an inspiring meeting with her grandmother and a vision of her seafaring ancestors (in a sequence that made me cry, but in a good way).


Moana makes it to the island (with a late assist from Maui who changed his mind), but while Maui is keeping Te Kaa distracted, she makes an earth-shattering discovery: Te Fiti isn’t there!! Maui told her that the heart belongs in the center of a spiral on Te Fiti’s chest, and when Moana looks back, she notices that Te Kaa has a spiral on HIS chest. And that’s when it dawns on her…Te Kaa isn’t just some fire demon…he, actually she, is Te Fiti without her heart!!! Knowing this, she calls Te Kaa over and reminds the goddess who she really is while restoring the heart to her. Rejuvenated, the blight is destroyed and Te Fiti thanks the pair by restoring Maui’s fish hook and making Moana’s boat good as new before returning to her slumber.


Moana returns to Motonui, and having seen the benefits of sailing firsthand, the great boats are retrieved from their cavern and the entire village is off on a sailing adventure with Moana leading the way!

I literally cannot praise this film enough, it left me in tears by the closing scene and I’m already making plans to see this film at least one more time in the theater (and I almost never do that). If you haven’t seen this film yet, please go, and if you have and your friends haven’t, take them with you and go see it again!

Final verdict: Moana is a masterpiece that rivals the greatest of the Disney classics.

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See also:

Animated Film Reviews

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)