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Critics Abigail Gogolski  Cosette Talarico on what’s worth seeing

Disney’s Moana has become a groundbreaking movie as the studio’s first Polynesian princess is introduced. Though the film establishes more cultural, revolutionary characters, it has caused quite a bit of controversy based on the shape and size of these characters.

Moana is said to be the first “average sized” princess who, unlike the classic princesses does not have a tiny waist and lanky limbs. While some people believe this is a positive change, influencing viewers of all ages in a good way, others believe that it is culturally demeaning to Hawaiians and encourages girls that they don’t have to be fit. Moana isn’t the only thicker character in the movie; her partner Maui is said to be too big and bulky setting a distorted image of Polynesians.

In Disney’s defense, the film company has long strived to encourage and include people of all types. Since their beginning, Disney creators have fashioned diverse characters of all shapes and sizes from all different types of backgrounds. Not surprisingly then, Maui is not Disney’s only “large” character. For example, Cinderella’s fairy godmother is depicted a little thicker than other characters created around that time. The father from The Incredibles and the mother from Bolt are just a few of Disney’s fuller-figure characters.

Disney continues to diversify their characters and backgrounds to create an equal and relatable company. This allows teens to feel more comfortable in their own bodies and to not aim to fit in with the classic princess stereotype. In fact, this is exactly what junior Miriam Sheehan took away from the film.  “She’s a normal person of a normal size, so it’s more about her and not about what she looks like,” Miriam explained.  “I liked the fact that Moana is a strong character who had to push through her insecurities before she could accomplish what she wanted.”

Aside from focusing on the shapes and sizes of the characters, the overall movie is a must-see. Not only does it appeal to children, young adults and teens can also relate to the many characters in the movie. Though Moana did not win any Oscars, it sure won a place in the hearts of families across the world. Its catchy, innovative song “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Alessia Cara was nominated for a Golden Globe award, this song appears on radio stations throughout the nation, grabbing the attention of teens and inspiring them to follow their dreams.

This theme, of course, is a Disney staple. Moreover, though viewers like Miriam enjoy the film because of their love for animation, it was the film’s universal message about dreams stayed with her afterward.  “It was really nice because it was not a love story,” Miriam said.  “It focused on the journey of the main character who was a girl, and the ending showed that people aren’t just who they seem to be on the surface. You have to get past what you first feel about people in order to see who they really are.”

This holds true for Moana whom the Demi-God Maui judges.  He tries to diminish Moana by listing her limitations: “You’re in a dress and you’ve got an animal sidekick: you’re a princess.” (SPOILER)  The audience cannot help but cheer when Moana proves him wrong by completing her journey and restoring her island. Using her heroic, courageous qualities she defies the average princess stereotype and emerges as an inspiration for viewers of all ages.  This is what makes the iconic movie Moana worth renting.

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Now on DVD