Movie Review: Moana introduces yet another Disney Princess, but adds a bit of progress

“If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” snarks the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) when his new acquaintance Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) protests that she’s actually the daughter of her tribe’s chief, not royalty. He’s got a clearly meta point: Heroines of Disney cartoons like Moana are instantly eligible to be inducted into the marketing network of Disney Princesses (at least if their movies are successful), regardless of their actual in-movie lineage. It’s an early sign that Moana, from veteran Little Mermaid directors John Musker and Ron Clements, is self-conscious of its status as the next big Disney Princess movie.

How could it not, with such an amalgamated setup? Moana, whose tribe discourages anyone from leaving its small but lush island, dreams of a bigger, more adventurous life, just like Ariel, Belle, and Mulan before her. She also butts heads …

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