Disney / Moana

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"If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I'll know how far I'll go..."

"The ocean is calling."
Tagline

Moana (renamed Vaiana in some countries due to trademark issues) is the 56th movie in the Disney Animated Canon, set in the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific and drawing inspiration from the region's mythology, history, and culture.

Moana Waialiki lives on a beautiful Polynesian island where she is set to become the next chief of her tribe. But when the crops start failing and fish flee the surrounding seas, Moana believes that the island's troubles are linked to the legend of an encroaching "darkness" created when a demi-god named Maui stole the heart of the benevolent creator goddess Te Fiti.

Recognising her compassion and wanderlust, the ocean itself entrusts Moana with the lost heart of Te Fiti. Defying the wishes of her protective father, Moana embarks on an adventure across the turbulent and monster-filled seas to track down Maui and force him to return the heart of Te Fiti before the darkness swallows all life on the ocean.

It was a highly-anticipated film, originally to be done in the Paperman style of animation before it was changed to a more conventional form of CGI. It features Moana as the first Polynesian Disney princessnote  (and second Polynesian protagonist after Lilo) and the fifth non-European one.

The cast includes Dwayne Johnson as Maui, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as Moana, Temuera Morrison as Moana's father, Tui Waialiki, Nicole Scherzinger as Moana's mother, Sina Waialiki, Rachel House as Gramma Tala, Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa, a giant crab monster, and Alan Tudyk as the chicken Heihei. It reunites the directing power duo of Ron Clements and John Musker, the men behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog. The songwriters are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i.

The film was released on November 23, 2016, preceded by the short Inner Workings.

The first teaser trailer is here, a teaser that aired during the Olympics is here, an international trailer is here, and the official trailer is here.

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.

Tropes associated with Moana include:

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    #-F 
  • 10-Minute Retirement: After the initial battle with Te Kā, Maui's hook is severely damaged, driving him to give up the quest and leave Moana. Helpless and alone, Moana gives the Heart of Te Fiti back to the ocean and tells it to pick another Chosen One. After a reassuring visit from her grandmother and the spirits of her ancestors, she chooses to continue without Maui, and dives into the ocean to retrieve the Heart before setting sail for Te Fiti. Later, during her confrontation with Te Kā, Maui also has a change of heart and rejoins the fight.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Maui's fish hook, while it looks round, can cleanly slice through rock.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Maui's iconic hook is only used in the story where he fishes up the Hawaiian Islands. In the film it replaces the snare used to capture and slow the sun and is reworked as a weapon and the source of his shapeshifting abilities.
  • Adult Fear:
    • At the beginning of the movie toddler Moana wanders away from the hut where Tala and Tui are arguing over the legend of the heart of Te Fiti and goes down to the beach. Once he realizes she is missing, Tui is anxiously searching for her and when he discovers her on the beach at the water's edge you can see fear and concern on his face as he realizes how close she is to the ocean alone and unsupervised.
    • Tui lost his best friend, who drowned when they recklessly sailed beyond the reef, and he fears losing his daughter the same way because of Moana's fascination with the ocean and sailing. Later on, his mother dies and his daughter finally does sail away on the same night.
  • Advertised Extra: Pua the piglet, despite being heavily featured in trailers and posters (including the one that serves as the page image), only makes significant appearances in the very beginning and very end of the movie, and doesn't join Moana on her journey.
  • Age Progression Song: "Where You Are" goes from Moana as a toddler (about 2 years old) to a child (about 10 years old) to her present age at 16. So, there's roughly a 14 year time skip.
  • Air Quotes: Maui does this in a fit of Self-Deprecation.
    Maui: Are you gonna give me a speech? Tell me I can beat Te Kā 'cause I'm "Maui"?
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Pua the piglet has some doglike mannerisms. In one scene it encourages Moana to take a boat out by holding an oar in its mouth like a fetched stick and wagging its tail.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: Averted. Though heavily influenced by Polynesian mythology, it is not directly based on any one story.
  • All Myths Are True: Gramma Tala's legend of Te Fiti's heart from her Opening Monologue turns out to be true. Lampshaded by herself when Tui protests that there is no darkness to fear.
    Tala: The legends are true!
  • Always a Bigger Fish: A giant eel-like creature tries to eat Moana when she arrives in the Realm of Monsters, but is itself eaten by a giant plant monster in the nick of time.
  • American Kirby is Hardcore: The Japanese trailer focuses on the cute baby Moana.
  • Amusing Injuries: Maui is Shot in the Ass with a dart by the ocean, and flops onto his belly. What makes it extra funny is his verbal reaction to it:
    Maui: ["I'm NOT amused" tone; to the ocean] Really? Blowdart in my butt cheek?
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't let superficial things define you- your worth is determined by your attitude and actions. Moana and Maui learn this, while Tamatoa is an example of a failure to do so.
    • All it takes is one person to change and encourage you and make you the best you can be.
    • Be open to opportunities and don't let fear prevent you from progress.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending shows that Moana and her people have returned to the sea. She has rekindled their ancient calling to be voyagers and serves as their chief and wayfinder.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: In the teaser, Maui exposits his story using the third person.
    Do you know why I know all this? That's because I am Maui!
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Gramma Tala's is a manta ray and her spirit becomes one after she dies.
    • Maui's favorite shape shifting animal is the hawk.
  • Animated Tattoo: Maui has these all over his body. Some of them depict his famous exploits. The depiction of Maui in all of them has a mind of its own and acts as a conscience/heckler for Maui.
  • Arc Words:
    • "I am Moana of Motunui. You will board my boat, sail across the seas, and restore the heart of Te Fiti!"
    • "Who you are/who are you?" and its variants show up a lot.
    • "The ocean chose you/why did the ocean choose me?" also appear a few times.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The first time Moana ventures out into the ocean, large waves sink the boat and throw her into the sea, where her foot gets trapped in the coral reef. She escapes with just a scraped foot and is fully recovered by the next scene. In reality, being pummeled by waves on a coral reef formation should have resulted in severe cuts and bruising as well as a high risk of infection.
  • Art Shift: "You're Welcome" has a shift in the art style with Maui's backup and the "gifts" he gives Moana.
  • Auto-Tune:
    • While most of the singing in the film is indeed very natural and unaltered, there's one very subtle instance during the Rock's number, "You're Welcome". "When the nights got cold, who stole you fire from down below?"
    • The 'pop' version of "How Far I'll Go" that plays in the end credits is heavily, heavily auto-tuned.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": When Moana acts as bait to distract Tamatoa, she delivers the unenthusiastic lines below. It's promptly pointed out by Maui, who tells her she's not really selling it.
    Moana: [deadpan] Wow. A shiny, glittery cave. And just like me, it is covered in sparkly treasure. Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle.
  • The Bait: Maui uses Moana as bait for Tamatoa, in order to distract him while Maui retrieves his hook.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Tamatoa does this to Moana.
    "Are you just trying to get me to talk about myself? Because if you are..." (menacing glare suddenly becomes smug smirk) "...I will gladly do so! In song form!"
  • Bamboo Technology: The Kakamora have bizarre clockwork mechanisms and a fleet of war boats that combine into a giant galleon.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Giant eight-eyed bats, based on a legendary foe of Maui known as Pe'ape'a, appear in both the "You're Welcome" number's rap segment and in Lalotai.
  • Be Yourself: Explored. Gramma Tala encourages Moana to follow "the voice inside", but Moana worries about abandoning her responsibilities. She only becomes fulfilled and confident when her ambition to explore and her sense of duty are reconciled.
    • Tamatoa presents an inversion, concerned entirely with appearances - no matter how horrible a monster he actually is.
  • Big, Badass Bird of Prey: One of Maui's favorite forms to shapeshift into is a gigantic hawk.
  • Big Damn Hero: During the Final Battle, when Te Kā has Moana at her mercy and is about to smash her with a ball of lava, a hawk cry rings out announcing the return of Maui.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Maui's haka during his fight with Te Kā during the film's climax is untranslated.
  • Billed Above the Title: In a move Disney doesn't make very often, most of the advertising proudly proclaims that the film stars Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho. In that order, but the fact that they never fail to mention the completely unknown Auli'i right alongside superstar Dwayne Johnson says a lot.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The Realm of Monsters is all over weird neon colors, which turn out to be provided by bioluminescent algae. Tamatoa decorates himself with neon bioluminescent algae that glow in the dark, as seen by the end of "Shiny". Later, Moana dips a barnacle in green bioluminescent algae to pass it off as the Heart of Te Fiti and throws it into a crevice, distracting him long enough for her and Maui to escape with Maui's fishhook and the real Heart.
  • Book Ends:
    • The beginning and end has the ocean give Moana a shell. In the beginning, she decides not to take it in favor of helping the baby turtle, while at the end she takes it and places it on the pile of stones at the chief's place, signifying that she has accepted her role as master wayfinder.
    • This line from Tui to Moana — "It suits you."
    • A meta example: The last time Disney Animation Studios had two of its films nominated for "Best Animated Feature" in the same year was back in 2002 with Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet. In 2016, almost 15 years later, they had Moana and Zootopia. Both times, Disney had a film in the running with a Polynesian protagonist and a strong Polynesian influence. Bonus points for Ron Clement who was a director for both Treasure Planet and Moana.
  • Born Under the Sail: Moana's people were once skilled seafarers, but after Maui took the Heart of Creation the seas became hostile and forbidding and they mothballed their seafaring canoes.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Moana borrows "CHE-HOO!" when she rides the geyser back up into the ocean water above Lalotai, completing her escape with Maui and the Hook in tow from Tamatoa.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • After Maui traps Moana in a cave and readies to sail away with her boat, he grabs Heihei, faces the audience, and gleefully says "Boat snack!"
    • In his Villain Song, Tamatoa gives the audience an Aside Glance and tells them to look up what a decapod is.
    • In The Stinger, Tamatoa, still left laying helplessly on his back, addresses the audience directly and complains that they would've sympathized with him more if he was a Jamaican crab named Sebastian.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Tamatoa is sarcastically imitating Moana's line "This is my Grandma's" when referring to her amulet.
  • Bright Is Not Good: In Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, the background coral and many of its denizens have bright but sickly neon coloring.
  • The Cameo: As Moana looks out over the Realm of Monsters the distinctive back spikes of the Pacific's greatest monster can be seen prominently in the background. (Director's commentary has revealed that they used a resurfaced version of Marshmallow for the homage.)
  • Catapult Nightmare: Moana has a nightmare of Motunui getting destroyed and her parents getting killed. It isn't revealed to be a nightmare until Moana wakes up catapult-style.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Maui returns to help Moana get the heart back to Te Fiti a second time by distracting Te Kā. He'd left earlier after the first battle when his fish hook got damaged. It's heavily implied that Mini-Maui was the one who convinced him to go back.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The fact that Heihei seems to think rocks are food is important in one other scene later on.
    • The geyser that saved Moana from a monster would later be used by her and Maui to escape from Tamatoa.
    • Maui's giant whale belly-flop, lightheartedly performed by Maui on Moana earlier on, comes in handy later when Maui fights Te Kā.
  • City in a Bottle: Moana's tribe has been living on an island for generations once the seas beyond the surrounding reef became too hostile to navigate safely.
  • Close on Title: Moana does this, it is the second film of the Disney Animated Canon to not show the title until the end, after Big Hero 6.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Maui and Moana trick Tamatoa and escape, he asks "Did you like the song?"
  • The Con: When Maui first meets Moana, he sings, dances with her, and gives her gifts. She really enjoys it, until Maui traps her in a cave and tries to steal her boat, revealing he was just trying to distract her. She escapes, though.
  • The Conscience: Whenever Maui tries to ditch Moana, his Mini-Maui tattoo tries to guilt-trip him about it. Also when Maui returns to Moana for the second round against Te Kā it's heavily implied Mini-Maui was the one who convinced him to do so.
  • Convection Schmonvection: It wouldn't be anything set in Polynesia without this trope — Moana and Maui get pretty close to lava and feel no ill effects. Then again, Maui is a demigod and Moana is The Chosen One carrying the Heart of Te Fiti. However, this becomes downplayed with one scene wherein Maui is running on Te Kā and says "ow ow ow ow ow!" at how hot it is.
  • Cool Boat: The movie is loaded with them. Besides the giant Polynesian voyaging canoes, the Kakamora have giant boats that look like a mad cross between a Hokule'a and something straight out of Mad Max: Fury Road (which, according to The Other Wiki, was an intentional homage).
  • Creator Cameo: At the very beginning of the song "Where You Are" while still in the musical introduction, two villagers hang a carpet on a vine. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker appear in the carpet design in a Polynesian art style.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: After Maui has a shape-shifting Magic Misfire that weakens his self-confidence, Tamatoa fires up his Villian Song again focusing on Break Them by Talking lyrics and proceeds to deliver a merciless beating to Maui.
  • Curse Cut Short: After Moana gets stuck in the cave courtesy of Maui:
    Moana: You lying, slimy SON OF A—
    [cut to Maui outside the rock preparing to get the boat off the island]
  • Daydream Surprise: Following a lesson on ocean navigation from Maui, Moana is surprised to find that they've arrived back at Motunui... which is being engulfed by the darkness. As her parents are swallowed up before her eyes, she awakes with a start to find that they're still in the middle of the ocean.
  • Dead Person Conversation: The ghost of Gramma Tala appears late in the film to give Moana a pep talk.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Of The Chosen One. Moana was chosen by the ocean at a very young age to be the hero who would, as she puts it, find Maui, make him board her boat, deliver him across the ocean, and make him restore the heart of Te Fiti. Maui consistently mocks her for this, saying that the ocean has chosen wrong, that she is not fit for the task, and that just being chosen does not mean you can do what you are chosen for. Then reconstructed after her "I Am" Song, where Moana realises that it doesn't matter who chose her, as long as she chooses to go on, and not let anything stand in her way.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Said word for word by Maui when he first tosses Moana overboard and sees the ocean putting her back.
  • Discussed Trope: When Maui calls Moana a "princess," she protests that she isn't. He points out that she is the daughter of a chief who wears a dress and has an animal sidekick, the general description of a Disney Princess.
  • Disney Acid Sequence:
    • Invoked by Maui with the psychedelic song and dance number "You're Welcome". As Moana gets so distracted by the visuals and excitement over the whole thing, she misses when Maui actually starts singing that he's going to steal her boat, and then seals her in a cave as soon as the song is over.
    • The Realm of Monsters and "Shiny".
  • Distracting Disambiguation: When Moana first makes her prepared "I am Moana of Motunui" speech to Maui, he keeps interrupting her to discuss his titles.
  • Divine Intervention: Moana is out of her depth on her tiny boat and she knows it. Her natural skill can only take her so far toward the fish hook constellation that is supposed to lead her to Maui. As a storm threatens, she asks the ocean for a little help. The ocean brings the storm right on top of her, shipwrecking her on a tiny island...where she finds Maui.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Maui is extremely out of practice with his shape shifting powers when he first gets his hook back which causes him embarrassment and insecurity. The look on his face when he realizes he can't transform properly is quite reminiscent of a different kind of performance failure.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Moana's chicken is called Heihei - which means chicken in Maori.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Maui grumpily starts explaining his "chicken" joke to the unamused Mini Maui, then says he's not going to explain it because then it wouldn't be funny.
  • Doomed Hometown: Moana goes out to prevent this when Te Kā's curse begins to shorten the food supply, threatening Motunui with starvation.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Much of Moana's self-doubt on her quest stems from her growing feeling that she doesn't have skills she thinks are necessary to accomplish her quest like sailing, wayfinding, fighting monsters and ends up wondering why the ocean chose her believing that it made a mistake. In the end, Moana was focused on the wrong qualities as it was her compassion and empathy that enabled her to reach past Te Kā's rage and remind her of Te Fiti, her true self. These are the qualities the Ocean saw in Moana as a toddler when she helped the baby sea turtle get safely to the sea.
  • Dramatic Drop: Tamatoa drops Moana in shock when he sees Maui grab his fishhook. But he recovers when he sees that Maui is unable to control his shapeshifting.
  • Driving Question: Throughout the movie, Moana is constantly questioning and exploring her own identity. "Who am I?" The answer? "I am Moana!" and "Why did the ocean choose me?" Because her compassion and empathy would help Te Kā remember her true self, Te Fiti.
  • Dub Name Change: In most European and Asian countries Disney changed the protagonist's name and the movie's title to "Vaiana". While there was an Italian porn star named "Moana Pozzi" (deceased more than two decades before this movie came out) that Disney probably doesn't want to be associated with, the lesser-known real / primary reason for the name-change is because a cosmetics brand has trademarked "Moana" throughout the European Union.
  • Dying Candle: As Moana's grandmother passes, all the torches in the hut go out, implied to be from her spirit rushing out to speed Moana along.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Tamatoa and the Kakamora can both be seen in the Opening Monologue as creatures trying to get hold of Te Fiti's heart.
  • Ear Worm: In-universe, the catchphrase of the "You're Welcome" song is an Ear Worm to Maui himself (he's the one originally singing it to Moana) — as he's shown in a scene after the song is over and when he's alone, to be still singing the refrain "You're welcome!" to himself.
  • Easily Forgiven: Considering that Maui stealing her heart caused Te Fiti to turn into a monster and nearly cause an apocalypse, she's incredibly accepting of his apology, heartfelt as it may be.
  • Eat the Dog: An elderly denizen of Motunui asks if he can cook Heihei, as the chicken appears to be too stupid to be of any other use. Moana declines, insisting that Heihei has some hidden talent. Later, when Maui steals Moana's canoe, the demigod takes Heihei too as a "boat snack." He spends most of the voyage trying to fatten the rooster up, to no avail. It's all clearly Played for Laughs with bonus points in that the elderly villager is voiced by Alan Tudyk who also voices Heihei.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: When Maui has to be talked into aiding Moana, she steals his half-finished banana and eats the rest.
  • The Epic: It bears several of the usual tropes. The royal, supernaturally blessed protagonist goes on a journey through the ocean with a demigod at her side, encounters mystical creatures and at one point even journeys into a realm of monsters.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Toward the very beginning of the movie, Moana sees a pretty seashell wash up on the shore, but abandons it to save a baby turtle; this establishes her natural tendency to want to help others instead of only being concerned with her own happiness.
    • Heihei's introduction to the audience has a villager questioning his basic intelligence as he tries to eat a rock and wonders what to do with him.
    • Maui's song, "You're Welcome" cements how much of an entertaining egomaniac he is.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The fight between Maui and Te Kā for the heart of Te Fiti is described as this by Tala. Subverted once their true motives are revealed.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Moana gets so caught up in Maui's antics during "You're Welcome" that she doesn't notice when Maui starts singing that he's going to steal her boat.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Moana tries turning around dramatically to speak to Maui, only for her own soaked hair to smack her in the face.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: Moana uses a barnacle and bioluminescent algae to create a fake Heart of Te Fiti, which she gives to Tamatoa to distract him long enough to escape.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Moana is The Chosen One, as well as the next in line to lead her people as Chief. She's a strong-willed Action Girl that drives the plot forward, with Maui serving as her mentor and partner. Notably, romance and/or marriage aren't even brought up during the film, in a departure from Disney traditions. The closest she comes to a love interest is a younger (8-10 years old) boy winking at her when she's teaching a group of children to dance. She's justifiably squicked by it.
  • The Final Temptation: A rare version where those offering it are completely benevolent. When Moana is distraught and believes she can't finish the quest, the ocean takes back the Heart and the spirit of Gramma Tala makes it clear that, if she truly wants and needs to, she can go home and the ocean will choose another voyager to complete the quest. In the end, Moana chooses to continue.
  • Floating Water: The ocean is a character throughout the movie, occasionally defying gravity and forming a water-tentacle reminiscent of The Abyss.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: In Brazil, the movie is called "Moana - Um Mar de Aventuras" (Moana - a Sea of Adventures).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Within the first couple of moments, note that once Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, it was mentioned that she gave birth to a darkness. The story implies that Te Kā is a separate entity from Te Fiti, but the plot twist is that Te Fiti and Te Kā are one and the same.
    • Also during the story, when Tala explained that The Chosen One would find Maui and restore Te Fiti's heart, the story didn't specify who would restore her heart. Moana assumed it had to be Maui, but it was she who had to do it, while Maui had to guide her.
    • Tui sings the following lines to Moana during "Where You Are", hinting at the tragedy that led him to stop trying to leave the island.
      Tui: You'll be okay/In time you'll learn just as I did/You must find happiness right where you are...
      • In the same song, Grandmother Tala also tells Moana that she is "her father's daughter", which makes much more sense once we learn that Tui once had the same wanderlust that Moana does.
    • During Maui's "You're Welcome" song, one of the tattoos seen (but not animated) depicts him fighting a giant crab. Later on, he casually admits that he and Tamatoa (a Giant Enemy Crab) never got along due to Maui ripping one of Tamatoa's legs off.
    • Grandmother Tala, gently encouraging Moana to follow the call to the sea tells her, "There is no place you can go that I will not be with you," implying she knows her time of death is near.
    • A rare comical example. Heihei is shown to think rocks are food. Sure enough, he eats the heart later on.
    • Baby Moana helps a baby turtle get to the ocean for survival, but she protects and guides it to the ocean, having the turtle make the journey to the ocean by itself. And throughout her journey, Moana is given help and guidance from the ocean and later Maui, but they both have Moana do things for herself so she can learn to better survive out in the ocean.
    • In the "You're Welcome" song, when Maui says the line, "'Cause Maui can do anything but float." It's a subtle dig at the fact his parents threw him into the ocean when he was born, in an attempt to get rid of him.
    • At one point early on, we see Tala by the ocean dancing with some manta rays. She comments that she wants to come back as a manta ray when she dies. And that is exactly the form her spirit takes when she does pass away.
    • Maui makes a cutting point to Moana when detailing the arduous series of steps needed to restore the Heart of Te Fiti: "Have you ever defeated a giant lava monster?" Fast-forward to the climax...
  • The Four Chords of Pop: The chorus of "How Far I'll Go."
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Among the enormous crowds of Kakamora, one can be seen with Baymax's face painted on it.
    • Take a closer look during the "You're Welcome" number and you'll see Flounder swimming among the 2D-animated fish.
    • When he first gets his hook and is trying to shapeshift, Maui changes into various animals. For a split second, he turns into Sven the Reindeer from Frozen.
    • During the scene after Moana and Maui escape from Tamatoa where Maui accidentally shape shifts into shark head and fins with human legs, a slightly obscured tattoo on his stomach shows that Mini Maui has also changed into a shark-headed man.

    G-L 
  • Genius Loci:
    • The ocean is one. It takes a liking to Moana when she is a baby.
      Moana: The ocean is a friend of mine.
    • Te Fiti is essentially a living island, though her influence extends far beyond that.
  • The Glomp: Moana delivers one to Maui at the end of the movie when they part ways. It's extra meaningful because for most of the movie Moana and Maui aren't even friends — only bickering protagonists. In this scene it's established that they part on good terms and genuinely appreciate one another.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Moana is able to convince Heihei that the ocean is nothing to be afraid of but then, for the rest of the film, has to stop him from jumping into the water and drowning himself.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: During "You're Welcome", Maui pulling the guts out of a giant eel (referencing a legend where he planted them and created coconut trees) is censored by having said gut-ripping happening below the frame.
  • Gratuitous French: One lyric in Tamatoa's song is "C'est la vie, mon ami."
  • Hand Wave: Used and performed literally by Maui during the song "You're Welcome":
    Maui: Well, come to think of it.../ Kid, honestly, I could go on and on/ I could explain every natural phenomenon! (handwaves)/ The tide/ The grass/ The ground/ Oh, that was Maui just messing around!
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: Sung by Maui during "You're Welcome":
    Maui: Hey, what has two thumbs and pulled up the sky
    When you were waddling yea high? This guy!
  • Headbutt of Love: Hongi, the traditional Māori greeting of pressing one's nose and forehead to another person is prominent in the film.
  • The Hero's Journey: Or, technically, The Heroine's Voyage. The protagonist leaves her world behind, acquires a supernatural helper, descends into the underworld and returns, has an epiphany, achieves victory, and returns home.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Moana has a moment where, having failed to get past Te Kā, which resulted in damaging Maui's prized possession and caused him to fall into a cold fury with her for disobeying him, which in turn results in his abandoning both the quest and Moana herself, she gives up and entreats the ocean to take back the heart, telling it that it chose the wrong person. With love and support from the spirit of her grandmother and ancestors, she is able to come out the other side ready to fulfill her quest.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song: The second half of "Shiny" is about Tamatoa pointing out all the weaknesses of Maui as a last taunt before killing him off. While that never happens it does give Maui a case of Psychosomatic Superpower Outage.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Maui took the Heart of Creation from Te Fiti not for any malicious reason, but because he thought humans deserved to be able to create things with its power; also he didn't know what losing it would do to her. Since he's been living alone on an island for a thousand years, he has no idea that the humans who used to praise him now consider him at best a troublemaker, and when Moana informs him of this (and the ocean backs her up) he's crestfallen.
  • He's Back: Maui when he finally gets his fish hook back at Lalotai, even to the point of saying "I'm back." Immediately afterwards, due to being out of practice with it, Tamatoa wipes the floor with him (at one point, literally).
  • Holding the Floor: Moana keeps Tamatoa distracted with her talk so Maui can sneak up behind the crab's back.
  • Homage:
    • The directors have stated that the Kakamora's attack was a direct homage to the vehicular action sequences from Mad Max: Fury Road. A few of the Kakamora even bounce on a giant drum to provide music for their fight a la the Doof Warrior.
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda acknowledged that he wrote "Shiny" as an homage and tribute to David Bowie once he found out that Jermaine Clement was going to voice Tamatoa. note 
  • "I Am Great!" Song:
    • "You're Welcome" for Maui, where he sings about his adventures in a bragging fashion.
    • "Shiny" for Tamatoa, which also includes a Break Them by Talking speech to Maui in song form.
  • "I Am" Song: "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)" for Moana. It's in the title!
  • Iconic Item: Maui's fishhook and to a lesser extent, Moana's oar, or the necklace Tala gives her.
  • I Fell for Hours: The entrance to the Monster Realm is atop a really tall mountain. It takes a while to reach the bottom.
    Maui: I am still falling!
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: While they don't fight, Moana does this after realizing Te Kā is actually Te Fiti, calling out to her to realize this isn't her so she can calm down enough for Moana to return her heart.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: There are dozens of Kakamora pursuing and shooting blow darts at Moana and Maui, but none hit either of them.
  • Improvised Zipline:
    • Moana rides a long tree trunk/branch on her way down from the peak on Motunui towards the beach.
    • When Moana is fleeing from the Kakamora, she grabs a spear attached to a rope tied to their ship and then leaps off. While in freefall she throws the spear into the mast of her own canoe, creating an impromptu zipline she rides down to complete her escape.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Downplayed. Maui is heavily influenced by Dwayne Johnson, a large, muscular Polynesian man with a Fascinating Eyebrow and tribal body tattoos. Though Maui is more Stout Strength, in the traditional Polynesian style and also blends in physical aspects of Johnson's grandfather Peter Maivia.
  • Insistent Terminology: Moana is not, repeat not, a "princess" — she is the "chief's daughter," thank you very much. Maui being Maui points out that they're pretty much the same thing.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In order to sooth the terrified kids in the opening scene, Tui exclaims "There are no monsters" but then he accidentally touches a column which leads to scrolls with painted monsters unravel all around the room. Cue a Mass "Oh, Crap!" by the little ones.
  • Instant Sedation: The Kakamora's Tranquilizer Darts quickly paralyze their targets.
  • Insult Backfire: When Maui is listing the dangers involved in reaching Te Fiti, he snarkily asks Moana if she's ever defeated a lava monster. She replies that she hasn't, then remembers that according to legend he lost his fight with Te Kā and asks if he has either.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Maui does this to Te Kā after his hook is destroyed to draw fire away from Moana. His haka during this scene is both a war cry and an attempt to hype himself up.
  • "I Want" Song: Moana's a Disney Princess... er, daughter of a chief, so of course she gets an "I Want" Song; several in a way. Her lines in the early part of "Where You Are" deal with her learning about being the next chief, while her full verse has her accepting her responsibilities. "How Far I'll Go" is all about how she's torn between her duties as the chief's daughter and her desire to see the world beyond her island home. "How Far I'll Go (Reprise)" plays more like an "I Am Becoming" Song.
  • "Just So" Story: In real life there was a break in the Polynesians' wayfinding practice for one to two thousand years (known as the "long pause") before they suddenly resumed their voyages.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: During "Shiny", when Tamatoa notices that Maui's out-of-practice with his fishhook, he goes,
    Ouch! What a terrible performance
    Get the hook, get it?
  • Left the Background Music On:
    • In one of the teasers, Mini Maui provides drum accompaniment and Maui has to tell him to stop.
    • In the movie, during Maui's song "You're Welcome", Mini Maui does a tap dance routine. Then the camera zooms out and it's revealed that the tapping noises were made by Maui drumming his fingers on a coconut. This also foreshadows the illusions he uses immediately afterwards to trap Moana in the cave.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Maui, once he's ready to be the hero again, performs a haka to challenge Te Kā.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: Inverted in Tamatoa's song "Shiny". Although the song is instantly interrupted by Maui's shout of "Hey crab cake!", once Tamatoa realizes that Maui is experiencing a loss of control over his shapeshifting, the song spins back up to speed as he says "Well well well".
  • Little Stowaway: How Heihei ended up on the boat with Moana.
  • Loss of Identity: Because the loss of Te Fiti's heart cursed the oceans and filled them with monsters, Moana's ancestors were forced to abandon their original roots as peerless voyagers across the seas and took to the safety of Motunui island. By the end of the movie, they manage to re-discover their identity.
  • Lucky Translation: Lin-Manuel Miranda writes plenty of playful lyrics for the film's vocal tracks, which makes it hard for translations to capture some of the soundtracks' nuances. However, a few translations get lucky:
    • The Latin Spanish version of "You're Welcome" is "De Nada", and instead of "Well, come to think of it," it uses "De nada" literally as a negation to achieve the same effect. Additionally, instead of "'Cause Maui can do anything but float," the lyrics use the fact that the Spanish word for "swim" is "nadar".
    • The Mandarin Chinese version of "Shiny" sets up an additional Foil between Maui and Tamatoa, when Tamatoa claims that while Maui is kindhearted (shànliáng), he is not shiny (shǎnliàng).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The final verses of "You're Welcome" sees Maui admit that he plans to steal Moana's boat, while still in tune to the upbeat nature of the song.
    Hey it's okay, it's okay, "you're welcome." Well come to think of it, I gotta go.
    Hey it's your day to say "you're welcome." Because I'm gonna need that boat.
    I'm sailing away, away you're welcome. Because Maui can do everything but float.

    M-R 
  • Magic Misfire: After reclaiming his hook, Maui finds that a thousand years without it have left him woefully out of practice and he has lost control over his shapeshifting. Unfortunately, he discovers this just as he confronts Tamatoa who proceeds to mop the wall with him while delivering a Break Them by Talking section in his song "Shiny". This leads to Maui developing a case of Psychosomatic Superpower Outage.
  • Magic Skirt: Everybody wears cloth and/or grass skirts that stay in place whether they're leaping or climbing or falling. It is a kids' movie, after all.
  • Match Cut: When "We Know The Way" cuts back to Moana, she appears right where the Ancient Chieftan's son was just a moment ago signifying her descendance from them.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • At one point, Moana tries to play on Maui's vanity by convincing him that returning the heart of Te Fiti would make him a beloved hero again, at one point whispering in his ear, "Maui, Maui, he's so amazing!" When Maui and Moana arrive at Te Fiti's island, Maui starts whispering, "Moana, Moana, she's so amazing!"
    • Maui calls Moana "Chosen One" ironically when he first learns the ocean chose her, then uses it unironically when he returns to fight Te Kā and buy her the time to restore the Heart.
    • In a heartbreaking moment of Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, Moana attempts to tearfully repeat her earlier speech of "I am Moana of Motunui", only for Maui to ignore her and fly off.
    • When Moana thanks Maui for returning to help her against Te Kā, he sincerely answers, "You're welcome."
  • Meaningful Name: Moana means "Deep water" in Maori and Hawaiian.
  • Medium Blending: Maui's tattoos come alive as 2D animation. Used most during his song "You're Welcome", where the background becomes stylized like his tattoos and he and Moana interact with 2D objects and stick figures. The end result looks rather like a Roger Rabbit Effect.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Tala's locket, which she gives to Moana on her deathbed. Not only has she been carrying the Heart of Creation in it for twelve years, but it's also shown to have been passed down from the chiefs of the tribe since their seafaring days; Tala presumably kept it after her husband died if Tui didn't want to wear it (given what happened the one time he tried to sail past the reef, that's understandable).
  • Meta Description: Maui refers to Tamatoa as a "beady-eyed bottom feeder". This turns out to be true, since Tamatoa is a crab.
  • Mickey Mousing: During "How Far I'll Go," geysers go off in rhythm with the song.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Heart of Te Fiti, a magical stone that must be returned to its rightful place to stop the blight spreading across the islands.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The story begins with Gramma Tala telling a story to toddler Moana and her peers.
  • Morphic Resonance: A mild example, but whenever Maui shapeshifts, his fish hook is visible on the patterns of his new form. (The most obvious being in his hawk form, where the hook is formed out of red feathers on the otherwise white underside of the wing.) The hawk form also features the more usual kind of morphic resonance, looking a lot like his human form; his other animal forms, less so.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: In the climax, Moana sings gently to an enraged, charging Te Kā, imploring her to remember her true self. It works and Te Kā calms, letting Moana put the Heart in her chest to transform her back into Te Fiti.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Moana tries to intimidate Maui into helping her with a well-prepared speech centered around the line "I am Moana of Motunui." When she actually gets to say it to Maui's face, Moana can barely finish the line because Maui is too focused on discussing his many titles. In a heartbreaking moment, she later attempts to tearfully repeat the speech, only for Maui to ignore her and fly off, leaving her stranded with no friends and no hope.
  • Mythology Gag
    • The last patch in the end credits is a drawing of Wreck-It Ralph, a nod and a tip of the hat to the fact that the film's sequel is the next one in the Disney Animated Canon.
    • If you look closely you'll see that one of the Kakamora has Baymax's face.
    • Blink and you'll miss it: one of the treasures on Tamatoa's back is a certain oil lamp.
    • One of the village carpet/blankets is a recolored adaptation of Aladdin's magic carpet.
    • When toddler Moana holds a leaf over the baby turtle to help it get to the sea safely it is a reference to Stitch doing the same in Lilo & Stitch and the baby turtle is Squirt, complete with his shell flower pattern.
    • The entire scene with Tamatoa has a light at the top of the cave, and the cave resemble's Ariel's Grotto from The Little Mermaid. The Stinger also has Tamatoa comment that the audience would care about him more if he was a crab with a Jamaican accent named Sebastian.
    • While attempting to use his shapeshifting powers, Maui accidentally turns into Sven for a split second.
    • When Tui accidentally releases some mats that shows monsters, one of them includes Marshmallow.
    • While life is returning to the island there's a blink and you'll miss it shot of a youth restoring flower blooming.
    • According to the creators, Olaf from Frozen appears in some form in the movie. This amounts to His carrot nose and one of his arms being among the items Moana takes with her, seen in the reprise of "How Far I'll Go."
    • During Maui's "You're Welcome" number, after the Art Shift, a bunch of fish can be seen swimming up. One of them is Flounder.
  • Narrating the Obvious: Moana when seeing the Kakamora's boat splitting up.
    "Their boat is turning into more boats!"
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: When one of the fishermen approaches Tui to tell him about the empty fish nets, he doesn't come out about right away but says "Chief! There's something you need to see."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers and posters for the movie made it look like Pua was gonna go on the journey with Moana, Maui, and Heihei. In the actual film, he doesn't.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Maui's theft of the Heart kickstarts the whole conflict of the film, even if it takes a while for the consequences of the act to reach Moana's people.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Subverted for the first time ever with a human character in a Disney film, as the toddler Moana in the opening sequence isn't wearing a top, and thus her nipples are clearly visible. This is apparently only acceptable for the very young girls on the island, as those who appear to be over 6 or so wear tops like the teenage girls and women.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Moana and Maui form a completely platonic pair as they are a teenage girl and millennia old demigod respectively, though they do share a platonic hug before going their separate ways.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The speaking parts are voiced by a mixture of Americans and New Zealanders, and they don't really try to line up their accents. This is especially conspicuous when you hear the difference between Moana (played by Hawaiian native Auli'i Cravalho) and her father Tui (played by Temuera Morrison, a native New Zealander).
  • Oblivious Transformation: After their escape from Tamatoa, Maui starts to thank Moana for her help and bravery, but is oblivious to the fact that his transformation has malfunctioned and she's distracted by talking to the upper half of a shark.
  • Ocean Awe: As expected from a film based on Polynesian culture, there are extensive panoramas of the Pacific Ocean in the film, and it's showcased most prominently in "We Know the Way."
  • Offing the Offspring: Attempted by Maui's parents who threw him into the ocean.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Maui's tattoos and "You're Welcome" chronicle his amazing feats of the ways he altered aspects of the world for the benefit of humanity (raising islands, creating the coconut tree, bringing fire, etc), all of which are based off of real Polynesian legends of Maui.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Heihei, of all characters, has an epic one after he sneaks on board Moana's raft then realizes that he is now stuck in the middle of the ocean.
    • Downplayed, but Maui is visibly alarmed when Moana first unveils the Heart of Te Fiti. Though given his past experiences with that thing, it's hard to blame him.
    • Tamatoa has one when Maui shows up and retrieves his hook...until he realizes that Maui's out of practice and has trouble shapeshifting. Maui immediately gets one after that.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Maui cracks one in the end when facing up to Te Fiti, from whom he has stolen the heart. But he is Easily Forgiven.
  • Opening Monologue: In which Gramma Tala is teaching little kids of the legend of Te Fiti's heart.
  • Our Ghosts are Different:
    • The Ghost of Grandmother Tala is capable of looking translucent but is tangible enough for Moana to embrace and be hugged back.
    • The spirits of Motunui's ancestors appear to Moana in a vision quest before she undertakes her adventure on the sea. But when she re-accepts her quest, they appear again, and look directly at her with approval.
  • Overdrive: An interesting variant with sails. Moana performs a dummy foray when trying to get past Te Kā and then opens more of the sail which provides her boat with additional speed.
  • Overly Long Tongue: In Lalotai, an eel-like monster possesses one of these which it uses to ensnare Moana. The tongue continues to twitch after being severed.
  • Overly Preprepared Gag: During the scene where Moana fixes a villager's roof from leaking, the villager is shown standing there throughout the entire conversation with a bowl of pork in his hand for no apparent reason except to lead into Moana's "That's good pork!" joke.
  • Plank Gag: Maui nearly brains Moana with her own boat when he turns to face her. Fortunately, she sees it coming and ducks in time.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: After the first bungled attempt to defeat Te Kā, Maui is enraged, blaming Moana for having his fishhook damaged. Moana shouts back, noting that Maui stealing the heart was what's caused all the trouble in the first place. He then takes off and leaves Moana stranded on the ocean. But not for long.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: When Maui's trying to suggest things a chief's daughter ought to be doing instead of risking her life fighting lava monsters on the open ocean, "kissing babies" is what he comes up with.
  • Power Glows:
    • Maui's fishhook glows blue when he's about to use magic, and his transformations involve blue light. Later, when the hook is damaged by Te Kā, it glows purple.
    • The heart of Te Fiti glows green, growing brighter throughout the movie as our heroes get closer to where it belongs.
  • The Power of Creation: The Heart of Te Fiti is what houses Te Fiti's Mother Nature powers.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: An odd but effective example.
    Moana: [facing down the Kakamora] Ha. Coconuts. [proceeds to easily fight her way across the Karakora's ship, smashing them aside with an oar]
  • Precocious Crush: Implied during one scene. When Moana is giving dancing lessons to some children from her village, one of the boys improvises many moves and then winks at her.
  • Prophecy Twist: The prophecy says that the adventurer must deliver Maui across the great ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti. The wording implies that Maui will be the one to return the heart, but in truth it's Moana and Maui's role is as her mentor.
  • Protagonist Title: Breaking the chain of adjective movie titles in the Disney Princess line started by Tangled in 2010.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Maui's inability to use his hook to shapeshift properly was initially due to lack of practice. After a Curb-Stomp Battle with Tamatoa and his Break Them by Talking song, Maui spirals into a negative mental state that perpetuates his power outage. Once Moana gets him thinking positively again, however, he regains the knack.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: After being left in a damp cave with no attempt at maintenance for at least several decades, none of those boats (especially the drua Moana absconded with) should have been salvageable, let alone seaworthy, unless there was some manner of magic involved.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Even though Moana shows shades of a Rebellious Princess by wanting to have the freedom to explore the ocean, she acknowledges that as chief she cannot simply abandon her duties for her own personal gain and instead uses it as a motivation to aid her people.
    • Wayfinding and voyaging had not been done in generations, including the time Tui was growing up. When Tui and his friend went sailing, they lacked experience in dealing with the challenges of being in the open sea. So when they crossed the reef and found "an unforgiving sea", their boat was torn apart resulting in the death of Tui's friend. This situation was repeated with Moana when she goes to sail for the first time, her inexperience at it almost gets her and Pua drowned.
    • When Maui retrieves his fish hook from Tamatoa, the demigod has trouble with his Voluntary Shapeshifting, which isn't surprising since Maui has been on an island for thousands of years without said fish hook.
    • Maui's anger at Moana for not listening to him to retreat from Te Kā, which led to his fishhook being damaged, is a reasonable response. Even though she earlier gave him a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech, he has spent thousands of years defining his self-confidence by the link to his magical fishhook. The feeling can't be shaken so easily.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Chickens actually do swallow stones. They need them so their gizzards can grind the food they eat since they don't have teeth. They don't normally try to swallow one bigger than their heads, though.
  • Resigned to the Call: Maui tries once to ditch Moana, but the ocean just puts him back on the boat, after which he agrees to help her return Te Fiti's heart.
  • Rhyming with Itself: Very cleverly used to show how repetitive Moana finds life on Motunui:
    I know everybody on this island
    seems so happy on this island:
    Everything is by design.
    I know everybody on this island
    has a role on this island -
    so maybe I can roll with mine...
    • Tamatoa rhymes glitters with glitters
    Fish are dumb, dumb, dumb
    They chase anything that glitters
    Beginners!
    And here they come, come, come
    To the brightest thing that glitters
    Mmm, fish dinners!
  • Rousing Speech: Discussed by Maui.
    Moana: Get up.
    Maui: Why? Are you gonna give me a speech? Tell me I can beat Te Ka 'cause I'm "Maui"?
  • Running Gag:
    • During the Time-Compression Montage song "Where You Are", Moana keeps trying to head back to the shoreline (six times!), only to be repeatedly intercepted by her parents, which leads to her becoming visibly more and more frustrated by each failure.
    • In the beginning act of the film, Maui is constantly trying to ditch Moana by throwing her off the canoe... only for the ocean to promptly put her back. When he attempts to swim off himself, the ocean puts him back, too.
    • Moana's hair flying into her face, especially when she whips it around dramatically.
    • Heihei's stupidity. The fact that Maui has to show him how to eat and how he keeps swallowing non-edible items as well.

    S-W 
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In-Universe example: the narration told by Moana's grandmother implies that Te Kā came into existence after Te Fiti's heart was stolen. As it turns out, Te Fiti is the same being as Te Kā. Furthermore, the legend says that Maui stole the heart so he could have the power of creation to himself, when the truth is that he wanted to help the humans by giving them that power.
  • Scenery Porn: The ocean is absolutely gorgeous, and the tropical setting and landscapes are breathtaking! Disney has really come a long way.
  • The Scream: Played for laughs when Heihei discovers that he's on a boat in the middle of the ocean. The camera cuts to a wide shot of the tiny boat in the open water, then back to Heihei still screaming.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Downplayed example; when Sinna witnesses Moana preparing for her quest to confront Maui, rather than trying to stop her, she helps her pack, recognizing that Moana has to do this to save their island.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Maui attempts to jump off the boat and swim away after he fails to get rid of Moana and the Heart of Te Fiti, only for the ocean to put him back on the boat, much to his annoyance.
  • Secret Test of Character: While not outright stated, it's strongly implied that the ocean chose Moana after she abandons going after a pretty shell that was starting to wash away and instead helps a baby sea turtle get safely to the sea, indicating that her compassion and sense of responsibility is why she should be The Chosen One despite her lack of skills in sailing or wayfinding.
  • Seldom-Seen Species:
    • Tamatoa resembles a giant coconut crab (the largest crab species that can move on land), although his habit of decorating his shell with jewellery is inspired by the (appropriately-named) decorator crab.
    • At the start of the film, baby Moana protects a baby sea turtle from a flock of frigate birds.
    • One of Maui's animal forms is an iguana.
    • In Lalotai one particularly freaky monster takes the form of a sea anemone.
    • While eagles are a common sight in fiction, Maui's eagle form is actually based off of the Haast's Eagle, a massive, extinct species of eagle from New Zealand.
    • A few manta rays are seen at the beginning of the film, and Gramma Tala even has a tattoo of one on her back. Her spirit later takes the form of a manta ray and guides Moana on her quest.
    • During the song "We Know The Way", a bird can be seen flying by that resembles a white tern.
  • Self-Deprecation: The movie pokes fun at typical Disney princess tropes even as it utilizes them in the story. (e.g. People bursting into song, Moana having an animal sidekick, princesses wear dresses, etc.)
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Reconstructed, the whole point being that the more Moana is willing to put aside her desire to go sailing for the sake of her people, the more she shows that she's worthy to leave her home, find Maui and restore Te Fiti's heart.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Minor example. During the climax Heihei floats away in a basket after the boat is capsized and isn't seen until after the final confrontation. His return afterwards is lampshaded by Maui.
    Maui: The chicken lives!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Maui uses Heihei's beak to sign Moana's oar. He claims "when you use a bird to write with, it's called 'tweeting'."
    • The Kakamora and their ships and drums are a deliberate hailing to Immortan Joe's armada and the Doof Wagon/Doof Warrior from Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Shown Their Work: Disney made sure to do a lot of research, making it into a real meta-Polynesia and avoiding setting off cultural taboos. For instance...
    • Speaking of taboo, the word itself is borrowed from Tongan "Ta bu". The Maori variant occurs in the movie's dialog and can be seen in the DVD's subtitles.
    • Moana's vision of her ancestors voyaging was originally going have them in Papua headdresses and face paint, but the Oceanic Trustnote  nixed it because such ceremonial garb would be massively impractical out at sea.
    • Another bit cut from the film was Moana smashing a coconut in frustration, which would've come off as both sacrilegious and a waste of valuable food (worse than, say, burning a flag and trashing a freshly roasted turkey at the same time.)
    • One man from the village is shown getting his first tattoo, which is being done with traditional Polynesian implements: ink, a fishbone needle, and a flat mallet.
    • Maui was originally story-boarded as bald like his voice actor. After learning this would be inappropriate for his character, because Polynesian mythos equates long hair with power, Disney rose to the challenge and advanced the art of technical animation to give him long curly hair.
  • Sistine Steal: There is this symbolic finger-touching between little Moana and the personified ocean in an early scene.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Moana is repeatedly thrown off the boat by Maui, with little to no effort to boot, ending up soaking wet every time the ocean puts her back. Moana repeatedly smacks herself in the face with a wet mop of hair when she dramatically spins without registering that her hair is wet.
  • Snarky Inanimate Object: The Ocean. It's alive, has a mind of its own and is frequently the source of slapstick at Maui's or Heihei's expense.
  • Soft Water: The way to the Realm of Monsters involves taking a looooong plunge down a shaft into water. Maui may be semi-immortal, but Moana could have been terribly injured. On the other hand, she and water have a certain understanding.
  • Spoiler Title: The soundtrack lists not only the spoilerish "Tala's Deathbed" and "Tala Returns", but with "Sails to Te Fiti", "Te Fiti Restored", "Navigating Home" and "The Return to Voyaging"... basically summarizes the plot and conclusion of the movie.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: In her Opening Monologue Gramma Tala holds up a map and pours black ink on it to demonstrate the spreading of the darkness across the islands.
  • Squee!: Maui can barely contain his excitement when Te Fiti gives him a new fishhook, and Moana has to remind him to be humble and gracious.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Moana describing her plan to get past Te Kā when she's on her own after Maui deserts her. It initially seems like Inner Monologue, but then we see Moana has been addressing Hei Hei. Lampshaded:
    Moana (suddenly embarrassed): None of which you understand, because you are a chicken.
  • The Stinger: In a post-credit scene, Tamatoa is still stuck on his back. He turns to the audience, saying that they'd care more about his plight if his name was Sebastian and he had a Jamaican accent.note 
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Maui gets suddenly loud with Moana in the aftermath of their first confrontation with Te Kā, when he blames her for having sabotaged the attack which resulted in his hook getting damaged.
    Maui: Without my hook I am nothing.
    Moana: That's not true.
    Maui: WITHOUT MY HOOK I AM NOTHING!!!
  • Taking the Bullet: A non-lethal version. When Te Kā takes its first direct shot at Moana with a lava ball after Maui's return, the ocean heaves a mass of water in its trajectory. Though it still connects and wrecks Moana's boat, it had lost a lot of its heat and velocity from the ocean's interception, and Moana is not seriously harmed. The ocean then takes her the last part of the way to the island due to the urgency of the situation.
  • Tempting Fate: At the beginning of the movie, Tala and Tui can be arguing about the story of Maui, and Tui wonders aloud "who would want to go anywhere else?" He says this just as Moana is looking out at the sea.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: How "Shiny" begins.
    Tamatoa: Are you just trying to get me to talk about myself? Because if you are... I will gladly do so! In song form!
  • That's No Moon!: When Moana realises she was standing on Tamatoa's back.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Maui sees Te Kā winding up another lava ball to wing at Moana while she's climbing the cliff, and willingly sacrifices his damaged fish hook to deflect it. He lands on a rock with only the grip still in his hand, seeing that Te Kā is still fixed on Moana. Does he despair at the loss of something he attached so much of his self-worth to? No! Moana's pep-talk really did take hold, and he has the gumption to challenge Te Kā with a bellicose Haka to keep the monster's attention on him instead of Moana. In doing so, he broke his greatest fetter.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: During the Final Battle, when Maui's hook is broken and he defenselessly awaits Te Kā's final blow, Te Kā is suddenly distracted by Moana revealing the heart of Te Fiti glowing in the distance.
  • Training Montage: In preparation for their Final Battle with Te Kā, we are treated to a montage showing Maui exercising his shape-shifting abilities and Moana learning how to sail and wayfind.
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • "How Far I'll Go" gets two of them. Moana sings the first reprise when she sets off on her journey for the first time, and the second reprise, entitled "I am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)", happens when the spirit of Gramma Tala helps Moana break out of her Heroic B.S.O.D..
    Moana: And the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me.
    It's like the tide, always falling and rising.
    I will carry you here in my heart, you'll remind me
    that come what may, I know the way.
    I am Moana!
    • "I am Moana" actually is a Triumphant Reprise of nearly every song in the movie, representing Moana finding herself. It starts with Gramma Tala reprising "Where You Are", which turns into "How Far I'll Go" and a small snippet of "We Know The Way", and ending on Moana declaring her name to the world.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "How Far I'll Go" shifts up during the climax.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The Polynesian tribes were indeed one of the greatest ocean-voyaging cultures that ever developed. At their height, they could wayfind on voyages farther than the Vikings could in their longboats! In addition, they did stop voyaging for one to two thousand years, and then start again, and nobody really knows why. note 
    • The giant crab monster Tamatoa is covered in neon-coloured bioluminescent algae that only glow in the dark. Certain kinds of algae in real life are in fact bioluminescent.
  • The Underworld: Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, is uniquely depicted as beneath the ocean in some kind of massive air pocket. It's close enough to the surface for some light to still reach it but even without it there are bioluminescent fixtures making a psychedelic landscape. It was originally intended to be the realm of the dead to play this completely straight, but it was eventually changed to the land of monsters instead.
  • Urine Trouble:
    Maui: If the current is warm, you're going the right way.
    Moana: It's cold... [Beat] Wait, it's getting warmer!
    Maui: [Mildly malicious smirk]
    Moana: [Screaming] That is disgusting! What's wrong with you?!
  • Vaudeville Hook: Tamatoa references one in a pun on Maui's trademark fish hook, when he starts ridiculing Maui in his Villain Song after the demigod's badly floundered Dynamic Entry caused by his Magic Misfire.
  • Villain Song: Tamatoa has the edgy, David Bowie-esque number "Shiny", in which he boasts about how grand and shiny he is, while also giving Maui a merciless taunting, as well as Moana earlier in the song before trying to make a meal out of her.
  • Vision Quest: When Moana finds the hidden cave of Wayfinder ships, she bangs the drum as Tala instructed, and is treated to visions of her ancestors on the sea. This helps restore her eagerness to go to the ocean.
    Moana: We were voyagers!!
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Maui has the ability to turn into any number of animals, be they bird, fish, reptile, mammal or insect, but his favorite is a "giant hawk" which closely resembles the Haast's eagle, an extinct giant eagle from New Zealand.
  • Wait Here: Maui wants Moana to stay behind when he goes for the Realm of Monsters to snatch his hook from Tamatoa. Of course, she refuses, which he grudgingly accepts. When they are done with Tamatoa, Maui admits that Moana was a life saver.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Every single male character (and the female characters when they are toddlers) go around topless. Justified because of the ancient tropical setting.
  • Wanderlust Song: "How Far I'll Go" and "We Know The Way" both express the yen to travel the seas.
  • Water Is Dry: Especially noticeable with Moana given the number of times she is thrown into the sea. While the animators do make an effort to show her hair as wet when she comes out of the ocean, her dress with its elaborate frills never appears soaked and even her hair dries very quickly despite its length.
  • Wham Shot: When Moana finally reaches Te Fiti's resting place we are treated to a shot of the island...except there's only a giant crevice shaped like a laying woman. Which leads to a second Wham Shot of the spiral pattern on Te Kā's chest, revealing that Te Kā is in fact, Te Fiti.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Kakamora's ship looks like a ramshackle of flotsam and jetsam tied together into a misshapen mass which could be mistaken for an island what with the random coconut trees poking here and there. But it really is a heavily armed floating fortress, with multiple complicated mechanisms to better their raids, housing hundreds of the creatures.
  • What's a Henway?: Maui pulls this on Moana when she asks about one of his tattoos, which he doesn't want to explain. He says that it shows some people discovering "Nunya". When Moana asks what "Nunya" means, he replies with "Nunya business".
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Although he can't talk, this is clearly what Mini Maui is doing when Maui tosses Moana off a canoe in the middle of the ocean.
    • Pua's totally crestfallen expression has this effect on Moana after she comments on how tasty the pork is.
    • Moana says this to the ocean after her boat is sunk by repeated large waves.
    • Maui calls out Moana for not listening to him when he advised her that they had to leave Te Kā. It resulted in his fish hook being damaged.
  • White and Grey Morality: The movie doesn't have a villain in the normal Disney tradition. Tamatoa is more greedy than evil per se, the Kakamora pirates are dangerous but are only after the Heart of Te Fiti, and Te Kā is a normally benign goddess corrupted by having her heart stolen.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears: During "You're Welcome", Maui breaks out into an epic rap a la Lin-Manuel Miranda.
    Maui: Kid, honestly I can go on and on, I can explain every natural phenomenon. The tide, the grass, the ground, oh that was Maui just messing around. I killed an eel, I buried its guts. Sprouted a tree, now you've got coconuts. What's the lesson? What is the takeaway? Don't mess with Maui when he's on the breakaway. And the tapestry here on my skin is a map of the victories I win. Look where I've been, I make everything happen. Look at that mean mini Maui just tippity tappin'!
  • Wipe the Floor with You: Tamatoa grabs Maui and wipes him on the wall while singing "Shiny".
  • With This Herring: Moana sets off to save her people from the encroachment of Te Kā's corruption upon the land they live in... with a small boat barely bigger than her tribe's shallow water fishing boats and barely a clue how to operate it.
  • The Wonderland: The dark realm of Lalopai has its own odd rules, including an ocean overhead rather than below, and a nightmare ecology that faintly resembles the sea floor.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Tamatoa easily beats Maui down, but Maui had been out of practice for a thousand years to the point he forgot how to shapeshift. Tamatoa's reaction to seeing Maui with his fishhook again and his rematches with Te Kā imply he'd have been no match for Maui had he not been so rusty.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: Is gradually happening to the world once Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti.
  • Wrecked Weapon: After the abortive first engagement with Te Kā, Maui's fish hook is damaged after he tries to parry a blow from Te Kā with it. Its magical powers become balky, and it arcs with purple electricity from the damaged portions. In the second fight, it's completely broken, but Maui has taken Moana's words about his true being to heart and isn't despondent over it this time. Once Te Kā is restored into Te Fiti, She restores the hook and bestows it back to a contrite Maui.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Moana gives Maui such a speech when he lost belief in himself after his poor performance against Tamatoa.
    Moana: Maybe the gods found you for a reason. Maybe the ocean brought you to them... because it saw someone who was worthy of being saved. But the gods aren't the ones who make you Maui. You are.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: During their fight, Tamatoa pulls Maui back into melee range by his feet.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Disney/Moana