Moana is the story of a young Polynesian girl (voiced by Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho) who sets out to find demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, aka People's Sexiest Man Alive) in order to save her island and the whole world. It's out in theaters nationwide today.
The plot is pretty straightforward but there is a lot to discuss with kids after seeing the film. Here are a few conversation starters about Moana to use with tweens and teens.
* What kind of a leader is Moana?
Moana's father is the chief and it's clear early on that she will follow in his footsteps. As she grows up, she is faced with different challenges and she handles them deftly. But is it enough?
Moana is brave, independent, and determined, but those traits sometimes get her into sticky situations. Are they key to being a good leader? What other skills does she have that make her an effective leader?
* What forms of communication in the film were your favorite?
Moana has a bit of everything, from impassioned speeches to wordless slapstick comedy to hula dances to moving songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i, the lead singer of South Pacific fusion band Te Vaka.
Many different delights in the film are delivered without words. The playful personality of the ocean becomes a wonderful character thanks to Disney animation. The comic relief from Heihei, a rather mixed up rooster, is great. Maui's tattoos never speak but they interact and offer insight into the past as well as advance the story.
* Does it matter that Moana isn't a princess?
The movie pokes some fun at the traditional Disney princess construct. Maui calls Moana a princess, and she quickly corrects him. He counters with the fact that wearing a dress and having a cute animal sidekick are enough for princess status. Moana steadfastly opposes that. She is the daughter of the chief, though.
Do they think she's a princess? Does it matter?
* Would you rather have Pua or HeiHei as a side kick?
* How important is kindness in Moana? What was your favorite act of kindness in the movie?
There are several acts of kindness in the film, and one especially big one at the climax of the movie.
* There is no romantic story line in Moana. Did they like that, or did they miss it?
Some tweens and teens find romance totally gross, others are huge fans. It doesn't enter into the storyline of Moana at all, unlike other Disney films. I like pointing out that you can have a great story without a romance.
It isn't about who you're with or who likes you. Moana sends the message that it's what is inside that matters most.
* Moana's relationship with her dad is very loving, and a little complicated.
What parts of Moana's relationship with her dad do your tweens and teens admire? What would they change? Is it okay to keep secrets?
Have you seen Moana? Did it spark some good conversations with your kids? Please feel free to add other topics in the comments!
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