I took my girls to see Moana last week. It’s their new favorite, and it’s definitely mine too. Having two girls, I’ve seen every princess movie, and admittedly I wasn’t that excited about seeing another, but this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Moana is a chief’s daughter and therefore falls into the princess pantheon, but it’s the least important thing about her. She’s smart, creative, a strong leader, adventurous and tenacious.
It thrilled me to hear both of my daughter declare they’d like to be Moana for Halloween, because as Asian girls, it’s rare for them to see non-blond princesses. “Finally,” M declared, “A princess that looks kind of like me! And acts like me, too…” It made them so happy.
Here are the things I loved best about Moana, and why it’s a movie I want my girls to see:
1. Moana is the chief. She doesn’t have to get married to be the chief, or share her position. She’s the chief, period. Her people are clearly accepting of this. Moana takes her job as a leader seriously and works alongside her people, rather than hiding away in a castle.
2. Moana is very much a young woman–silly, playful, and feminine, but still strong. I grow tired of my girls being told that they can either be sparkly pink ballerinas or that they have to reject “being girls” completely. There’s plenty of middle ground, and Moana exemplifies this.
3. Moana and Maui are both adventurers, and become friends, and…that’s it. There’s no romance in this story; this is Moana’s coming of age, and that’s what’s important. She’s not rejecting romance, but it simply isn’t important to her right now. Maui and Moana reminded me a bit of Mad Max and Captain Furiosa (another movie I loved); they’re friends, they respect each other, they can work together successfully, and then it’s done.
4. Enemies are not defeated through violence, but through ingenuity and, at the end, compassion. No pushing the villain from the parapets here. Both Moana and Maui are resourceful, and its their teamwork that creates their victories. They rescue each other equally.
5. Moana’s family are all supportive, strong and loving in their own ways, and each of them contributes to her personality.
6. Moana’s “happily ever after” is more adventure, with all of her people included.
7. I can’t speak to the use of the mythology or culture, as it’s not mine. However, I love that more of the songs are being done in the original languages. My kids love it, too, and want to learn ore about the cultures and languages they’re seeing.
My girls have talked nonstop about how Moana was fun, how they loved her adventure, and how they want to go have an adventure too, which is what I want for them. I want them to know they can be strong, they can forge their own paths, and they can lead the life that makes them happy.
Both girls were singing”How Far I’ll Go” together yesterday, and M said, “I think when I get bigger, I want to go see how far the ocean goes, too!” I know she will.