(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Moana. Before that, we are shown the thumbnail image of one Nostalgia Critic editorial, Tangled vs Frozen)
Doug (vo): When I talk with people, it almost seems like there's a little bit of a rivalry between the movies Tangled and Frozen. I guess everyone just has their CG princess movie that they connect with more. Well, now you can add Moana into the mix, because I know so many folks that just fell in love with this movie. I guess it makes sense. You have one that takes place in an average fairy tale environment, another one that takes place in a winter environment, and now you have one that takes place in a very warm environment. Each one has a location that people want to escape to. But Moana has a lot more going for it outside of just this location.
Doug (vo): Our main lead is the daughter of an island chief who's trying to train for when she becomes chief. Big surprise, though, her heart yearns for more, and she wants to go exploring, but the people very much don't want to leave 'cause they're afraid of the dangers out there. When she discovers in the past that her people were explorers, she decides to set out on her own to see what she can discover...well, that, and hopefully save the world. You see, a powerful force has been corrupted and is turning everything black and dead. One of the only salvations, which also happens to be the cause of all this, is Maui, played by The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). He apparently stole something from this powerful force and that's what's setting all this terribleness in motion. Moana, of course, meets up with Maui, and they're about as opposite as they can be, her being very tiny and hopeful, and him being very, well, big and full of himself. Together, they come across all sorts of weird creatures, bizarre environments, and eventually the evil force to try and stop it.
Doug (vo): So, truth be told, I didn't quite connect with this movie like I did with Tangled and Frozen. But it's still a very enjoyable movie. The animation is phenomenal, the environment looks beautiful, a lot of the creatures, especially the villain at the end, just look amazing. And on top of that, you have some really hummable songs that aren't gonna leave your head anytime soon. I guess the issues I have is that, while there are a lot of Disney cliches that some people are okay with, I find there's some that people start to get tired of as well. And don't get me wrong. Tangled and Frozen are filled with Disney cliches. They're just the Disney cliches I don't mind as much. I get when people say they're sick of the dead parent, they're sick of the curses, they're sick of castles and pretty dresses and falling in love with handsome guys. I understand that. For me, they're not quite as bad, because there's so many other cool creative things in it. Moana is the same way with a lot of people. There's so much good stuff that people connect with that they really overlook the other cliches. For me, though, these cliches I'm just done with. The main character that has to stay in one spot, but wants to journey, wants to listen to her heart, the wise parent or grandparent that passes away, yet comes back as a ghost at the end to give some sound advice, the cute little comic relief that doesn't talk, or should I say one-and-a-half comic reliefs. There's this pig that kind of disappears. Why was it even in the movie?
(Footage showing one of the main characters, Maui, is shown)
Doug (vo): The comedy as well is okay, but it just didn't make me laugh as much as Tangled or Frozen. The Rock, especially, I was really ready to laugh a lot at, and, yeah, I got a few chuckles. He was charming enough. But there was nothing I was really laughing that hard at apart from his song, "You're Welcome". It also really bothers me that pretty much everything in this movie is his fault, and at the end, all he does is just kind of bow his head and kick his heel and say "I'm sorry", and that, like, excuses everything. It didn't even really look like he meant it, and yet somehow he gets a big reward out of all this.
(One of the scenes in the climax, showing Moana standing face-to-face with Te Ka, the lava demon, is shown, before resuming showing various clips)
Doug (vo): Even the big transformation that happens at the end, while done beautifully, I would've liked a little bit more focus on. I would've liked to have seen more what this creature was like before it was turned into this dark, terrible thing and what changes it back. I guess I feel like all the ingredients are there, and they mix well, just not...great. I wanted to be more invested, I wanted to laugh harder, I wanted to really be sucked in to the drama. Maybe the familiarities that they have are just a little too familiar for me.
(Several scenes focusing on Moana and Maui are shown)
Doug (vo): But with that said, like a lot of their other modern fairy tales, they kind of make a few changes, too, that are very welcomed. For example, Moana and Maui don't get together. They're not even romantically interested in each other. That's refreshing, 'cause I'm watching these two and I'm thinking they work fine off each other. If they're gonna have them suddenly kiss at the end, it wouldn't make any sense. And they don't do that. I guess it's something that they advertise a lot that Moana's technically not a princess.
Moana: I'm not a princess. I'm the daughter of the chief.
Doug (vo): I don't know. That's not gonna stop her from being in all the princess lineups. (An image of the Disney Princesses shown in Ralph Breaks the Internet appears; alongside them are Moana and Mulan) I still don't 100% know how Mulan got in there.
Doug (vo): But like I said before, I can't act like the other Disney movies I like don't rely on a lot of familiar cliches, they're just cliches that don't bother me that much. For others, these are cliches that maybe drive them nuts, and the cliches in this film maybe don't. For me, I would've liked a few more surprises and changes in such a familiar story, but for a lot of people, these are the elements they really like in a lot of Disney movies, and I totally get that. So, yeah, it's a good flick. I can't in any way say it's bad, just sometimes, a little standard. But like I said, you've come to expect that with Disney films, and maybe this kind of standard, you'll like more than the other kind of standards. I definitely say check it out, because the people that like it really seem to like it. There's just some kind of really strong connection to the changes they make, but the stuff they keep the same. I guess it's a perfect combination of the familiarity they love, but the updates they want, too. So whether you find it okay or absolutely fall in love with it, it's an adventure worth setting sail to experience.
(The film's final scene, showing Moana, now chief and wayfinder, leading her people on a voyage through the ocean, is shown)