"Ocean"

There's a bit of a tradition in the Talbot household on Thanksgiving of going out to a movie together after everyone recovers from dinner. Yesterday we went out to see Moana (2016).

Disney Animated Studios started with quite a run of films starting in 1937: Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. Then, let's say they took a break until 1950 because there were some problems with racism and war propaganda for a few years. Starting in 1950 there was another run where they had about a 85% success rate of movies you could show any kid and they're in for a solid block of entertainment. The quality tailed off in the '80's and wasn't 100% kid friendly until Little Mermaid was released and Disney was back at the top with big screen into video hits highlighted by The Lion King just before Disney Animation had an identity crisis as Pixar's computer animated films became more popular than the meticulously hand drawn and colored films on the traditional animation side.

It wasn't until 2012 that Disney Animated Studios (still separate from Pixar) had more wide spread accepted movies with: Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and this movie, Moana. It's been another great run from Disney with Frozen as the biggest hit of all (although a good chunk of that success came after it was in theaters).

One of the only knocks I've heard against Moana is that even though it's a good movie and looks spectacular, the concept isn't groundbreaking like Frozen, Zootopia or Inside Out from Pixar. I'm not sure that's a fair assessment because of the different forms of animation used, the dazzling visual effects both underwater and of the night sky and the fact that the lead character explicitly says she is not a princess just that her father is the king.

Moana might not have the runaway hit song that "Let it Go" was for Frozen but it's a stronger story with a more vibrant setting and a much deeper bench of songs on the soundtrack. The big news from the soundtrack is that Lin Manuel Miranda wrote a few of the songs and performed (at least) one of them. Dwayne Johnson has a song that has a tenuous start where he seems to have trouble hitting notes... until the song ramps up and he starts belting it out. It seems every song in the movie is simply enjoyable.

I wasn't much of a fan of musicals until a few years ago when I learned my wife was enjoying some musicals but didn't have as broad of a knowledge of them (somehow) as I so I found myself in a good position to only suggest fun musicals and not ones that annoy the crap out of me. Oddly, in this process I found there might be more musicals that I enjoy than I previously thought and it has made me more open to seeing new musical movies.

It's kind of a good time for TV show musicals from Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Garfunkle & Oates and Flight of the Concords that my musical intake has kind of gone up quite a bit. My favorite song from Moana was "Shiny" sung by a giant crab Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Concords which is catchy and funny and scores a shorter action sequence. Apparently a song about being a giant shiny hoarding crab is my "Let it Go."

Letterboxd review.

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