#1 movie, weekends of 11/25-11/27/16, 12/2-12/4/16 and 12/9-12/11/16
Gross: $56,631,401, $28,270,989 and $18,533,804, respectively
What it is: A computer-animated Disney “princess” musical about a young Pacific Islander (Auli’i Cravalho) who leaves home to fulfill her destiny of becoming a sidekick to a Herman Melville character. Ha ha, just kidding, she seeks out a comically egotistical demigod (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to enlist his help in restoring her island’s good fortune by returning a sacred stone to its rightful place.
A lot of the critical discussion of Moana has focused on the fact that it features a Disney princess of color who doesn’t have a love interest. I have mixed feelings about these sorts of representational decisions on the part of big mainstream properties; they’re positive in and of themselves, but they can also be used as cover for a lack of substantive ideas, as with Star Wars: The Force Awakens or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I don’t know how accurate the film’s Pacific Islands setting is, but it definitely provides a lush and appealing setting for the story. The musical aspect of the production (courtesy of Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda) kind of comes off as an afterthought tacked on to remind people of Frozen, but the characters are likable and the jokes are funny at least as often as they are corny. Plus Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords shows up and gets his own musical number, so that’s always nice.