There will be hate and criticism for Disney's Moana, of that I have no doubt. There is definitely a fair amount of cultural pigeon-holing that makes up the film, but I will focus on the things that matter most to me in a Disney film.
1. The musical.
2. The color of mood.
3. The moments of wonder.
Hiring on a man who knows about writing a musical is fine. Hiring a man who understands that ethnicity is an important part of the music for a film is PRICELESS. Lin-Manuel Miranda was a strong choice, and his style of music, and understanding of syntax makes the soundtrack something extra special. I can only describe by the way that I feel it. For me to have a song fill my ears and get caught in my head is one thing, but when it travels down deep into my chest, that is how I know a song has done what it's supposed to.
The visual development of the movie was incredible. I just went to Hawaii with Ruth this year, and I swear I could feel the breeze, and smell the sea. I felt warm in the scenes with the sun, and cool as the night fell. When a discovery was made, the colors exploded, and my heart felt each blast.
The moments of wonder made me smile uncontrollably through my tears. As you get older, you experience life and death more severely, and for the moments that brought me sadness in this movie, there was plenty to raise me back up. Flawed characters learning to mend themselves. Characters who need help and have the humbleness to accept guidance and learn. It was everything I wanted in a movie without too much stupid humor or overwhelming mascot characters.
and the most important thing. Baby Moana.