When I reviewed the marketing of Moana back in November of last year, I focused a lot on the way brand name stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and The Rock were positioned as big selling points for the audience. That was a heavy focus of Disney’s campaign at the time, along with nods to the story of Moana’s journey to embrace her destiny and save her island.
That storyline, though, forms the crux of the movie. Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho), is the daughter of the chief of a small Polynesian island. Despite her parents’ insistence that the island is enough for everyone, she yearns to explore the vast sea. When a threat to everyone’s peaceful life emerges she strikes out to enlist the help of the demi-god Maui (The Rock) to help restore balance to nature. The two have to go through various trials and dangers to do so but ultimately find what she’s looking for and it all works out.
While the campaign sold a fun and funny movie about the odd pairing of the inexperienced but headstrong Moana and the cocky Maui, there’s so much more to it than that.