The countdown to Disney+ continues. But if you hurry, you can order EARLY! Here’s the scoop on what’s new and how to sign up for Disney Plus right now and join the Founders Circle for free.
If you’re like me you were stalking the D23 Expo and having total FOMO at all of the latest and greatest news, know we were in this together. If you’re even more like me you may have been crying at the fact that attendees got to be the first to sign up for Disney+ and even join the Founders Circle. Months away from its November 12th debut! But have no fear, from now until September 2nd you too can sign up to be one of the first people to subscribe to Disney+ and this early access is free PLUS (see what I did there?) you can also get 33% off the subscription for 3 years. Meaning you can preorder Disney+ for less than $4 a month (normally $6.99)! But how do you sign up for Disney Plus and join in on the Founders Circle? Here’s the scoop…
How to Sign Up for Disney+
D23 is the ultimate Disney fan club. I’ve been a member since 2015. You can gain access to this early sign up by becoming a D23 member and guess what? The general membership level is FREE! So yea. Click on over and get your D23 membership then log in to unlock the exclusive deal on Disney+! You should get an email notification but if not, head over to your account information and it’ll be there. Any questions? Let me know!
Now a little bit about content… My friend Carly was at the D23 Expo and has a complete list of what they’ve announced to be offering so far. If you think it’s every single Disney movie and TV show ever made, you may be a little disappointed. Not to say that won’t ever happen (perhaps in some kind of rotation). But there are 500 movies slated to be in the starting lineup. I took a peek at the list and quickly compared it to the complete list of Disney movies and noticed some like The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Incredibles II, the Emperors New Groove, Beauty and the Beast and Brave off the list.
Why Sign Up ?
You can read all of the details about parental controls, kids mode, and the very wide selection of offerings on CNET. But coming from a huge Disney movie collector, and someone vehemently against monthly subscriptions, I thought I’d share the benefit for our family that may help your decision.
For reference, our personal Disney movie library contains 130 Disney Animated movies and Pixar films. However I still signed up as a Founding Member because of the original content that’s included such as the live action version of Lady and the Tramp, and a hilarious-sounding series called Forky Asks a Question. It’ll also be the only streaming service that will play host to Disney’s 2019 theatrical releases like Toy Story 4, Aladdin, and Frozen 2. I imagine more live action Disney movies as well as animated films, classic and original will make their way there through the years.
We are counting down over here and can’t wait! Stay tuned for more updates, movie checklists, reviews and fun.
Growing up my mom had a personal library of Disney movies on VHS. I’ve carried on the tradition collecting my own library to share with my kids. Except we traded VCRs for DVDs and our personal streaming library. As a result I’m raising some big Disney movie fans. But something interesting I’m noticing is their preference for the live action movies compared to their animated counterparts. We don’t agree on the best live action Disney movies. Each of us have our personal favorites. But I thought I’d do my best to list all of the live action Disney movies ranked, in case you are wondering where to start.
Disney+ launches in November and subscribers should have access to all of these, including more that are in production exclusively for the streaming service. I’ll try to come back and update this list as more Disney live action movies come out.
And without further ado, here’s the best live action Disney movies ranked from best to worst.
Disney Live Action Disney Movies Ranked
From being one of my favorite animated Disney movies, to being my favorite remake. To me, this was Disney finally getting it right. They made just enough changes and updates for me to feel like I was watching a new movie, while also paying homage to the original. If you haven’t seen this one yet change that! You can read our full Aladdin review here.
2. The Jungle Book
I have to admit this movie and it’s placing surprises me. But it’s one of my son’s favorites that we keep going back to and every time I see it I’m impressed over and over again. You can read our full Jungle Book review here.
I think this movie almost doesn’t count as a remake because it’s so different from the 1959 Sleeping Beauty. But this tale retold is considered a remake on every list I’ve seen and most definitely one to watch. We took a break from watching it for years because Lil’ J remembered it as being scary, but after re-watching it for a movie night recently she changed her tune.
4. 101 Dalmatians
Admittedly this remake is one I haven’t watched in awhile. But the remake was done SO well. This is one of those movies that stayed true to the original but had fun with the updates. I’m planning to throw a 101 Dalmatians movie weekend with the kids to watch the animated movie as well as the live action remake and let them decide which one they enjoyed more.
5. Beauty and the Beast
I’m a little surprised at this one falling halfway down my list. When we first saw it I loved it, but didn’t like how close it stayed to the original. I like when the creators change it up and give us something new and exciting beyond the animation. My kids–Especially my daughter loves it, but it’s not one of my favorites. You can read our full live action Beauty and the Beast review here.
I had such high hopes for this movie. The visuals were beautiful but the remake had me wondering why? Why re-do a movie and only change the animation. Sure there were a few new things but not enough to me to warrant a remake. Plus, unlike in The Jungle Book, the animals looked real, but a little too real, and lacked emotion to pull us into the story the way the animated version does. Still, my kids prefer this version. And it almost makes me want to disown them. Check out our live action Lion King review here.
8. Alice in Wonderland
The only person in our family who liked this Disney live action remake was my daughter. I still prefer the original. One thing that did surprise me however, is how good Alice in the Looking Glass is. But I’ll admit I’m a sucker for movies involving time travel.
Last but not… Ok, yea it is least, is Disney’s live action version of Dumbo. Granted the original wasn’t that great, and has a bit of racist undertones. This updated version left all that out. I loved how different it was from the original but I found it to be pretty boring and too long. At least the animated version is under a hour and a little better at keeping kids’ attention. You can read our live action Dumbo review here.
*10 Christopher Robin
Ok, full disclosure, we actually haven’t watched this one yet! We totally missed it in theaters and since Winnie the Pooh is one my kids desperately need a refresh of, we are going to watch both the animated versions and the live action movie that isn’t quite a remake. We’ll come back and rank it after, but if you’ve seen it, let us know what you thought!
Alright so that’s our take on Disney live action movies ranked. How many have you seen? And how does our list compare to your own? Leave us a comment and let us know!
If you have some catching up to do, download our free checklist so you have check them off as you go, and keep track of your favorites!
I sat in a screening room where we watched Toy Story 4 and in walked members of the Toy Story 4 cast, including the iconic Tim Allen, voice of Buzz Lightyear.
The press conference wasn’t super long. I didn’t even try to ask a question because, well after interviewing Oprah and meeting her at the after party, I decided I was just going to sit back and let others have their big moments. I just wanted to be present and soak it in.
I’m sure a quick google search will take you to all sorts of articles about the press conference and get you a play-by-play of the entire interview. One of my friends wrote a great one. But I wanted to focus on something that stood out from each press conference for me.
During this press conference There were a couple of things. One was Tim Allen talking about the magnitude we all feel when seeing how much this movie has grown.
“It’s a theme park at Disney World based on this movie that we started 25 years ago,” Allen said. “I saw it, I saw the original tensor lamp film school done by John Lasseter. And I loved that computer animation. I saw this done to a terrific story that Pixar came up with. Back then, I wanted these guys, I loved that story. I loved the story so much.”
Another moment that stuck out to me was when Christina Hendricks, Madmen star and voice of Gabby Gabby in Toy Story 4 opened up about the impact she hopes her character leaves on girls.
“I think when children see this movie, she comes across as sort of like the villain at first,” she said. “And then you realize that she’s coming from a very loving place. And I think that’s important to sort of say maybe you don’t like someone at first. But how did they get there and why are they there and understanding their story. So I think she’s very special in that way. “
She went on to say there’s an important message there about not judging others before you get to know them.
“I think that ultimately, you have to listen to everyone’s full story before you make a judgment about them, and to hopefully not make a judgment about them,” Hendricks said. “I think that’s the lovely thing that she brings to this part of the story is that everyone comes from a place and it’s what made them who they are and you need to listen to that before you can fully understand them.”
If you’re a child of the 90s you get it. You’re one part thrilled and one part terrified of how Disney did with another live adaptation edition of our childhood favorites.
They’re serving them up like hot cakes and I can’t eat them all fast enough. Actually we nearly missed Dumbo but we saw that last weekend (super late review of that coming soon cause I know you still haven’t seen that one yet). Anyway, back to Aladdin.
Our family re-watched the animated version for movie night last week and I brought my two oldest kids to screen the new one with me. We hadn’t watched a full trailer and went in with no expectations (I’ve learned my lesson). We came out with… Well, here’s our spoiler-free review including their kids movie review.
Aladdin movie review
At the very beginning I was holding my breath and cringing through some of the opening. I literally had the thought “why did Disney go low budget on this?!” But the story brought me in and by the time we were meeting the Genie my mind had been changed completely.
Will Smith can’t replace Robin Williams but he didn’t try to. He added his own swagger to the Genie and in my opinion, he killed it.
Director Guy Ritchie, took a story we know and love (I mean raise your hands if you know all of the lines to the animated version) and flipped it around, changed it up and added so many new things while keeping the same spirit we fell in love with. I honestly think they did this better than many of the other live adaptations we’ve seen, including Beauty and the Beast.
Aladdin had me laughing, cheering and crying tears of joy. And the one thing I went into this movie hoping and wishing for: Jasmine getting her own song. I got! And it wound up being my kids’ favorite part of the movie. Yes, soundtrack, we will own you.
A common theme I’m noticing in all of these Disney refreshes is the desire to frame our beloved princesses in a better light. Giving them more of a voice and personality. The same is true in this movie. Jasmine embodies more of the “girl power” we want our girls to look up to, without taking over the movie.
I could dive in more, but I won’t because I want you to enjoy it as much as I did, and be surprised.
Oh and I lied, aside from Jasmine getting a song the other thing I really wanted was some Bollywood-style dancing and did they deliver? YES. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Is Aladdin scary for young kids?
Funny enough, my only gripe throughout the movie was feeling as though Jafar wasn’t really scary. But I think it makes this more realistic-looking version more appealing for families with young kids. As the movie began my 6-year-old son asked me “is this going to be really scary?”. But throughout the movie he never got frightened.
If you’ve seen the original you probably remember the giant cobra at the end. My son was really looking forward to that part, but I think he was also a little worried for it. That wound up being another part of the story that got switched up a bit but my son enjoyed the slightly less frightening alternative.
Further down below in Big T’s review you’ll get to see what he found scary but not surprising. Thankfully there are no foul words
Some parts were a little slow for him. And this version may have been a little more difficult for him to follow. There were a few times before Aladdin met the Genie that he asked me if the movie was almost over. And I was like no baby, we’re just getting started. But by the time Will Smith was singing, the rest kept his attention.
LIVE ADAPTATION VS ANIMATED VERSION
I think they did a great job keeping the main points across without feeling the need to rework the movie line by line. I was pleasantly surprised with how it came together. Some of our favorites lines were still there. The infamous “do you trust me” and we got several new gems.
I love how Aladdin and Jasmine got to know each other in the live adaptation better. And how we got some answers to their backstories. Overall there was just so much more meat to it.
It was as though I knew what to expect but still didn’t know what was going to happen and was so pleasantly surprised throughout the film.
I am a little embarrassed to say this but this is the first time I’m grappling with which version of the movie I liked more. Usually I leave feeling the animated movies are still far superior but Aladdin 2019 wiggled it way into my heart.
a note about COSTUMES
I need to take a moment to just give a shout out to the costume department. If they don’t win all the awards I will be so surprised. Jasmine’s wardrobe was absolutely breathtaking. I love that the signature blue made an appearance, but wasn’t all she wore. Each and every one of her dresses blew me away.
Alright so here’s what the kids thought.
ALADDIN KIDS movie REVIEW
Big T’s 6-year-old Aladdin review
Q: What did you think of the movie?
A: Good. Because the movie was good
Q: What was your favorite part?
A: When bad guys were chasing Aladdin.
Q: Do you think your friends would like the movie?
A: I don’t know
Q: Who was your favorite character?
A: The girl because her singing was more gooder.
A: Yea, better.
Q: Were any parts too scary for kids?
A: Not too scary. But it was scary when he pushed him in the water. But that’s what he did in the other one.
Q: Which movie did you like more?
A: Both. But the other one has a giant snake. I want to watch the other one again because there’s a giant snake.
Q: Do you want to go see this one again?
A: Yes. Thursday. Not this Thursday but next Thursday.
Q: If you had three wishes what would you wish for?
A: I would wish that I could be a train conductor. I would wish that I could have a T-Rex.
Q: So it could eat you?
A: A nice T-Rex. And that I could have a nice snake.
Lil’ J’s 8-year-old review
Q: What did you think of the movie?
(There’s a pun here you’ll understand after you’ve seen the movie)
Q: What was your favorite part?
A: When Jasmine was singing.
Q: Did you think it was funny?
A: Yes. It was funny when Aladdin was dancing.
Q: Which version of Aladdin did you like more?
A: This one infinity times more because it has more parts in it and more songs and it’s a new version of Aladdin. It is funny. At the beginning the movie wasn’t that good and at the end it blew me away.
Q: Would you recommend to friends?
A: Yes because I love it, I want to see it again, every day. Best movie ever!
Q: What age do you think this movie good for?
A: 3 to anything. Not too boring for a 3 year old. I think a 1-2 year old wouldn’t understand it but I think a 3 year old may have some questions would be able to figure it out.
(Note from mom… You know your kids best. I’d put this more in the 5 and up range).
Final thoughts from Lil’ J
“I liked Jasmine because she’s sweet with a pinch of spice. She’s no longer going to be silent and she was being a good role model. She’s my new favorite Disney Princess.”
My Final Thoughts
And there you have it friends. An Aladdin kids movie review.
To my fellow 90s children, I say set everything you’re expecting aside and go in with an open mind. Take your kids and have fun. Then come back and let us know what you thought!
I’m about to give a Beauty and the Beast review for people obsessed with the animated version and/or planning to take their kids to see it and looking for more information. Buckle up!
The live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast must be the must anticipated movie since I don’t know what. All of my friends have countdowns set. And 30-something around the world are acting like they’re 7 again.
I’ll admit I was one of them. Though it took me awhile to join the fray and really get excited for it (I really wish we could get more new animated classics versus re-hashing the old ones) once I sat down in the screening room at Walt Disney Studios and the music started, I was 7 again, bouncing up and down in my seat ready for some Disney magic.
Beauty and The Beast Overall thoughts (no spoilers)
Beauty and the Beast was a beautifully updated version of the classic we know and love so well. My favorite lines and parts from the animated version made the cut, but my favorite parts of the movie were the parts where the creators diverted from it.
In more way than one I feel like this movie was made with adults in mind—Specifically my generation. Never before have I watched a brand new movie that I could (and did) quote along with about 70% of it.
That said, I think people new, or less familiar with the animated version will still love it.
It was a musical from the get-go, and with new songs sprinkled through the movie it
It was the first movie I’ve seen in 3D in a long time that had really cool 3D effects.
Compared to the other live-action Disney updates, Maleficent is still my favorite, but I definitely liked Beauty and the Beast WAY more than Cinderella. This movie was beautifully done, and it’s worth seeing it in 3D.
What I LOVED (no spoilers)
1. Progressive: The creators managed to keep the beautiful storyline but make Belle even stronger. There were at least three interracial couples I noticed, and way more diversity.
2. Backstories: All those questions we had about Belle’s mom and The Beasts’ parents get addressed in this movie.
3. A more realistic romance: The Beast likes books too, and their relationship seemingly takes longer to build and has more important moments that bring them together.
4. More character depth: Obviously with Belle, but also with The Beast, and most surprisingly to me… Gaston. He’s even more ruthless.
5. Nostalgia: The score was similar to the animated version through several parts of the movie. The dance gave me chills. (spoiler if you didn’t see the original): As did when he transformed back into himself. I’d love to see the side-by-side because it really felt surreal watching it play back with a different look. It was like they transformed the characters into real life.
6. (Spoiler if you haven’t seen the animated version): The scene when the townspeople attack the castle was my favorite in the 1991 version and it was my favorite part in this movie too.
Ok, now that we got all that out of the way let’s talk about what you need to know when it comes to taking your kids to see Beauty and the Beast.
I’ll be taking Lil’ J to screen it hopefully early next week so I’ll updated this post (or add another) with her full review. But here are my initial thoughts.
Beauty and the Beast: Will kids like it?
I think so. And from what I’ve heard so far from other kids, it’s a resounding “YES”.
My daughter has seen the animated movie a handful of times, so she will likely have a different perspective than me, who has it memorized. There will be more surprises, and there’s a likelihood of young kids falling in love with it, really falling in love with the story for the first time.
When I showed her the trailer of them movie she said “So it’s like Beauty and the Beast but it looks, like, more realer?” Yes, baby girl, it looks more realer.
“Is there a ‘gay scene’”
I’m not quite sure what started this hoopla but after I screened the movie my husband texted me asking for a co-worker if there was a gay scene in Beauty and the Beast. Now I’m not sure exactly what a gay scene is classified as. Like a sex scene? Heavens no! Kissing? Nope. Hugging? I don’t remember that, definitely nothing in a sexual way.
What is there? I watched the two-hour movie expecting something juicy. LeFou, Gaston’s right-hand man and not-so-secret admirer, admiring Gaston as he does in the animated movie. Could people read between the lines and wonder if he’s gay? Sure. Would kids? No. Is it ever stated outright that he is gay? No.
What else is there? (This includes spoilers) Well, you know that scene in the animated version where the Plumette, the
opera-singing armoire jumps/falls on one of the townspeople attacking the castle? In the animated version, the man jumps up, realizes he’s in a dress and runs and screams. In this live-action version, she attacks three men and they come out wearing dresses. Two scream and run away, one more admires his new look, smiles, and struts away. It got a lot of laughter and applause in our little theater.
What else is there? At the end LeFou and the gentleman who liked his new dress (though no longer in his dress) pair up for a waltz in the ballroom with Belle and The Beast. LeFou is dancing with a woman at first but later in the scene swaps and dances with that gentleman. They dance. That is it. Definitely not worth the fuss.
I love diversity and diversity being represented in movies, books, and on TV. Representation matters. Personally, I think it’s important for my kids to know not all families look the same. My daughter knows blacks and whites didn’t used to be able to get married like her daddy and mommy are and I’m raising them to be accepting. That said, even if I wasn’t I don’t think I’d have a problem with that or letting my kids watch because it’s not blatant.
“Is it scary?
Another thing parents worry about with these updated children’s movies is if they’re too scary. Is Beauty and the Beast scary? Well, not really. Scenes with the wolves chasing Maurice and later Belle were a bit intense. The Beast is mean and loud at first. But again, if you know how the story goes it’s nothing any scarier.
You know your kids best. To a child seeing this movie for the first time, an extra loud and dark theater (plus 3D) makes any movie more intense. I’m bringing my 6-year-old to see it. My 3-year-old loves scary beasts, fight scenes and music so I might bring him too, knowing neither of them will get scared or cry. He’s never sat through a live-action movie though and he’d likely find some scenes (all of the non-violent, non-musical parts) boring.
One last issue I want to touch on for parents is violence. Though subtle for kids used to Marvel movies and Star Wars, if your little ones haven’t seen much other than animated movies there are a few things to take note of.
(Spoilers) There’s a scene where Gaston punches Maurice in the face and I literally gasped. It’s not in the animated version so I know a part of it was my surprise because it was new. But another part because you rarely see that kind of thing in Disney movies.
Also, at the end instead of stabbing the Beast in the side with a knife, Gaston shoots him, several times. I was like “holy crap!”. Again, it could have been the diversion from the animated version that gave that more of a shock factor to me, but I didn’t like the change. Maybe ratings wise shooting is more normalized than stabbing but gun violence is a trigger for me so this was something that bothered me a little. I knew it had a happy ending (though I worried for a second cause dang!) so I was ok.
Hopefully giving you a little warning helps you prepare, or prepare your kids if need be.
Overall I think kids will be mesmerized by the beauty, the music, and wonderful enchantments that made us 30-somethings fall in love with the movie 26 years ago.
I hope you’ll go see it and let me know what you think!
Ok, so that’s a lot of information. I’ll probably just post Lil’ J’s review in a separate post after she’s watched it since I’ve blabbed here enough.
Are you going to see Beauty and the Beast? Will you take your kids?
At first I was going to list the top 7 Disney movies I can’t wait for in 2017, because I love alliteration and that reminds me of alliteration. But there are only 8 movies coming out this year, and then I’d feel bad leaving that one movie off… So I’m narrowing it down to 5.
So drumroll please as I present…
Jennifer’s Most Awaited Disney Movies of 2017
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
This #5 spot was really hard to decide. I’m on a Marvel kick right now and Thor is so sexy. But I just can’t keep up with what’s going on in all of the Marvel movies (I finally watched Civil War a few days ago… It was great!) I re-watched the original Pirates of the Caribbean a couple weeks ago and was blown away all over again. I need to catch up on all of the movies because I’m pretty sure I’ve missed one in the bunch. But I’m excited to see Johnny Depp return as Jack Sparrow in this movie set to come out May 26th!
4. Beauty and the Beast
I can hear the gasps around the world seeing this movie come in so low on my list. But I stand by my opinion that it’s just too soon to redo this classic from the 90s. Yes, I’m going to see it. But I still have the original Disney version memorized from my childhood and I was hoping I’d have another 10 years to fill that space with new animated classics. That said, the new trailer features Emma Watson singing so at least I know there will be music because I was SO SAD they didn’t have any in Cinderella. I mean come on, it’s Disney! It comes out March 17th.
3. Star Wars Episode VIII
Yes, I’m a Star Wars nerd. I mean, not as bad as some of my friends or family members. But New Star Wars movies get me so excited because it seems like the WORLD gets excited. Plus my mom always gets us tickets for the very first showing and I look forward to seeing it with them. I loved Rogue One but I LOVED The Force Awakens even more because I’m all for lightsabers and telekinesis. This soars into theaters December 15th.
I’ve been trying to get the scoop on this movie for a while. All I knew before was it would have something to do with Dia de Los Muertos but now that more hints are sneaking out about this film I’m getting even more excited. Coco is a Disney Pixar film coming out this November 22nd about a boy who wants to be a musician despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music. I squealed thinking this could be Pixar’s first musical, but after doing a little digging, according to this article, Director Lee Unkrich ( director of Toy Story 3) says the film isn’t “a break-out-into-song musical,” but rather, one “set against the backdrop of musical performance.” Still, I can’t wait to see this with my kids.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… My most anticipated Disney movie of the year!
1. Cars 3
Ok ok ok, I’ll admit, when this movie was first announced I was like “REALLY? ANOTHER Cars movie?!” But then my son discovered Lightning McQueen. And now he’s OBSESSED. Like watched three times a day back-to-back obsessed. Has every die-cast Cars toy imaginable obsessed. Hates roller coasters but loves the Radiator Springs Racers obsessed. Doesn’t care about the Walt Disney World parks–just wants to see the cars at the Art of Animation Cars resort obsessed.
He loves the movie. Both movies actually, and kinda sadly because Cars 2 just was not great (though I’ll admit after hearing it for the 50th time it actually started to grow on me). He LOVES the movie. So I love the movie. And I can. not. wait. To take him to see this June 16th. My countdown is already set.
Thor: Ragnarok (as said before–Thor is hot stuff. Out November 3rd ); Born in China (great for a homeschool lazy day mid-April on Earth Day); Moana the SINGALONG hitting theaters later this month (January 27th). I still haven’t seen Guardian of the Galaxy vol 1 so I have some catching up to do before I see volume 2, set to hit theaters May 5th.
We just got back from a fast and furious trip to Walt Disney World that was jam packed with all kinds of surprises. One of the biggest ones was my little girl meeting Moana. After years of anticipating this movie she instantly fell in love with the new heroine.
Moana is still in theaters and has dominated the box office three weekends in a row. The movie is now a Golden Globe nominated movie for Best Animated Feature! And now you can meet Moana at Disney World in Disney Hollywood Studios.
More details on this trip and a fun series to come, but for now I’ll just tell you that my daughter was SO excited to meet her, and talk to her about her adventures with Maui.
I imagine my daughter meeting Moana felt a lot like how I felt meeting the directors of the movie: Ron Clements and John Musker.
Moana is the seventh Disney animated film they’ve directed together the others being: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, The Great Mouse Detective and The Princess and the Frog.
Learning the culture
Knowing this and being obsessed with about half this list, I had to ask them about directing three out of the five Disney films starring princesses of color, and how with Moana they went about respecting the culture yet attempting to share it with the world.
Right from the get go they spent weeks in the Polynesian islands of Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti meeting with cultural ambassadors, linguists, and anthropologists.
One Tahitian representative told them: “For years, we’ve been swallowed by your culture. One time can you be swallowed by our culture?” And the directors said they took that to heart.
“That became sort of our mantra as we did the movie over the course of the years and we kept people involved from the Pacific islands,” John said.
I just sat in wonderment as they told us about being 60-somethings working along bright eyed and bushy-tailed 20-somethings on this movie.
“It was fun on this movie though because in terms of the CG and the hand-drawn we got to use both. And Eric Goldberg who did The Genie and Aladdin did mini-Maui, this tattoo. So, we were able to incorporate hand-drawn elements. And the younger ones were thrilled to get a chance to work with Eric where they would do the CG Maui and he would do the hand-drawn part and they could kind of learn from Eric and see his techniques in terms of the acting and his timing and his comic sensibilities. And it really, they were thrilled to get a chance to learn from this kind of living legend of animation. It’s been fun for us to learn new things and work with new artists. So, that’s been the really fun part of all this.”
“Please tell me you two are doing more movies together!” I begged.
“We don’t know what we’re doing after this. This has been five years in the making. We’re just doing a couple of months of promotion then I think hopefully we get a few weeks off. Who knows what we’re doing,” John said. “There’s a lot of great movies in the Disney pipeline after this from these various directors.”
Yea yea. Wreck it Ralph 2, Gigantic, Coco and Frozen 2. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for those. (Especially at the possibility of actually having a quality sequel by Disney Animation Studios).
At least I asked. Either they’re keeping any plans under wraps or they really are as busy as they say. I’m keeping my ear to the ground for any new announcements and I’ll keep you posted!
We’ve got a Moana Review for you today! “Are you guys like those dorks who dress up to go see the new Star Wars movie?” My husband asked as my daughter and I got dressed to go see Moana.
“Yes, yes we are,” I said without an ounce of shame.
Despite last night being the THIRD time I’ve seen this movie (once at a screening in LA, and then again at the World Premiere), I still got into it. And to be honest, I enjoyed it more than ever this time around.
I’m going to break this review down into parts. No spoilers. Just my review plus tips and tidbits to help you enjoy it with your little ones. Then I’ll also have a 6 and 3-year-old Moana review from my kiddos at the end.
Next to our love for Disney animated movies is our love for the short films. Inner Workings is the delightful one right before Moana. In in you get to see Paul being torn between his head and his heart (quite literally). I don’t have a ranking of my favorite short films yet but this made me think I should to do one because Inner Workings would be near the top. Both of my kids loved it, even my 3-year-old was mimicking Paul’s actions and laughing (he’s not easy to impress).
Moana is nothing like Disney has done before
I repeat, this is nothing like Disney has done before. At that point, you can’t go into it expecting it to be like any other Disney Animation Classic or princess movies. We went to a press conference with Lin-Manuel Miranda and he said when he was writing the music for Moana he had to keep saying to himself “don’t think of Frozen, don’t think of Frozen…” I think you have to tell yourself that before seeing the movie too. I had high expectations and a lot of questions leading up to the film, but I tried not to over-research so I could be surprised and enjoy it for what it is.
If you go in expecting this to be the next Frozen I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. It’s completely different from the princess predecessors but beautiful in it’s own way. Yes, there is great music, there is a beautiful story line, and of course absolutely stunning animation. But that’s where the similarities end. The animal sidekick doesn’t talk but manages to steal the show with (mostly) silent humor. And though the whole film was computer animated (a first for these iconic directors) they incorporated the hand drawn elements in Maui’s tattoo which works as a conscience for him.
That said, if you’ve ever had anything against the Disney Princess films, this one is sure to change your mind. There’s no love story/love interest, the movie is truly about a girl and her own journey to save the world and along the way she finds where she belongs and discovers what she was born to do.
It gets a little weird, but there’s a point
There’s a part where they go into the realm of monsters. Watching it the first time I was like “Oh no, here’s the Pink Elephant moment.” (You know… from Dumbo?). It gets a little creepy and it seems random HOWEVER… In our interview with directors John Musker and Ron Clements they told us how this scene was to break up from being on the water for too long, and actually based on Polynesian mythology about a world below the ocean. So knowing that I loved that scene WAY more the second and third time around. And interestingly enough, it was my daughter’s favorite part.
Don’t expect a singalong version, but do expect to sing along
The first time I watched the movie my ears were trying to pinpoint my favorite songs. There are two or three songs that are super catchy. I’m pre-ordered the album last night (it drops on the 18th!) because my daughter was singing her favorite song over and over. Yes, there are some GREAT songs that you’ll want to have on repeat, however I don’t foresee this having the musical power of Frozen. I hate saying this cause I’m sick of that soundtrack but I mean… Few Disney movies meet that level.–There’s a singalong at Disney World, a musical at Disneyland. Moana’s soundtrack is incredible and it has musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda behind it (and you can totally tell). But the non-English languages have me wondering if this will take off the same way. Either way, we’ll be belting it in our house and car.
Is Moana scary?
I’m always hyper-aware of scary parts of the movies, especially when I see them before my kids. I worry it’ll be too intense for them when it’s blown up on the big screen. There’s a crab in the realm of monsters that’s hilarious, but gets a little scary when the lights go out and he’s singing and things get a little psychedelic. My 9-year-old sister called it “creepy” but my 6-year-old says it was awesome. My 3.5-year-old son didn’t seem to mind either.
There’s a frightening-looking lava villain that I thought might be a little dark for my kids but they didn’t bat an eye. Know your kids. This isn’t nearly as scary as say The Good Dinosaur, but loud, dark theaters can make any scary scene quite a bit more intense. So think about your kiddos and what they can handle.
The hour and 53 minutes is a beautiful journey through Polynesian culture. The directors John Musker and Ron Clements (directors of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules and The Princess and the Frog) told us how they spent years and years visiting different South Pacific and Oceania islands to learn about the people, culture, music, dancing, chants, animals, sounds and more. They even went back and changed some things about the movie when people told them they got it wrong. For instance, Demigod Maui was originally bald but the directors were told no… He needs long, thick hair, because it’s a part of his “mana”, power as a demigod, so they went back and redid that.
With this cultural immersion, you’re going to quickly notice the difference from other Disney movies where the location kind of just played into the backstory. Rich Polynesian history is at the forefront of this film and plays a role throughout. From haka dances the non-English lyrics in songs–It left me wanting an Ancestry DNA re-test to see if I have this beautiful culture running through my blood.
Look for the hidden treasures!
Finally, the Easter eggs–As fans call them. Hidden surprises throughout the movie found in the form of characters from other Disney movies.
The first time around I noticed Squirt and Sven and Wreck it Wralph, but I haven’t noticed any more yet but the directors told us there’s: Dory, Baymax, Flounder, Olaf, Sven and Squirt. The second and third time I’ve been trying to just look for those and I continue to fail.
We’ll go for my round four opening weekend and I’m going to be looking for more of those. Let me know if you spot any!
Also, don’t forget to stay past the ending credits to see a funny scene at the end.
3-year-old Moana review
Did you like Moana?
Yea, I liked it.
What part was your favorite?
I liked the chicken. He screamed.
You liked the chicken?
Yea, and when she fell off the boat in the water.
Do you want to see it again?
What was your favorite song?
6-year-old Moana review
Tell me what you thought of Moana.
It was… Eh, it was… AWESOME! *hands flailing in the air*
Why was it awesome?
Because it’s my new favorite movie. And it’s really cool, and it’s just really nice. First of all, Moana looks exactly like me. And second, I just like the songs in it, I just think it’s perfect. Nothing’s wrong.
Where there any boring parts?
No. Not at all, the whole time I was staring at it, like an eye contest.
What was your favorite part?
When he was singing “SO SHINY!… I just love it so much. SO SHINY! I’m gonna sing it all night… SO SHINY!”
Did you think it was funny?
Yes, it’s like every part is so funny. The grandma said ‘I hope I picked the right tattoo’ and the chicken was on the boat and bumping his head, and he had a coconut on his head and…” …Yea, I really like it and it’s really funny.
What would you say to someone thinking about seeing Moana?
It’s going to be so great and it’s so awesome, you have to see it!
Did you think it was scary?
No. The lava person might scare babies.
What do you think the moral of the story is?
Follow your heart and never give up.
What would you say to someone who says they don’t want to go see a ‘princess’ movie?
Well actually she’s not actually a princess, she’s the chief’s daughter and she likes to go on boats. It’s cool, and Maui can turn into a bird with his cool little hook thing. She’s more of a hero.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’M SO SHINY!
Just as a personal note, this was the first time my kids laughed out loud in a movie theater. It was so fun to see that. Often the jokes and message don’t sink in until we see it again later but I enjoyed sitting back and watching their reaction, which was pure joy. Definitely a must-see family flick. Don’t miss it!
Moana sails into theaters everywhere Wednesday November 23rd and believe it or not, we are getting tickets to see it AGAIN. Let us know what you think!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Moan Review be sure to check out our other Disney posts!
I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.