But no one knows how far it goes.
All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me.
I'm on my own, to worlds unknown! ♫
Moana (renamed Vaiana in Europenote and some Asian countries due to trademark issues with a cosmetics brand called Moana) is the 56th movie in the Disney Animated Canon, set in the South Pacific and drawing inspiration from the region's mythology, history, and culture.
Moana Waialiki lives on the beautiful island of Motunui, where she is set to become the next chief of her tribe. But when the crops start failing and fish flee the inshore waters, Moana believes that the island's troubles are linked to the legend of an encroaching "darkness" created when the demigod 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 Pacific Islander Disney Princessnote (and second Pacific Islander protagonist after Lilo Pelekai) 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 film features seven original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa'i, and the score is written by Brother Bear and Tarzan composer Mark Mancina.
The film was released on November 23, 2016, preceded by the short Inner Workings.
In October 2016, Disney announced that the film will be the first motion picture to be fully dubbed in the Tahitian language, marking the second time Disney released a special dubbing dedicated to the culture which inspired the film.note This led to subsequent special dubbings in Maori and Hawaiian often with the original voice actors reprising their roles in their native languages.
During Disney's Investor Day on December 10, 2020, it was revealed that an animated series (which shares the movie's name and will dive deeper into the Pacific Islands' mythology) based on the film will be released on Disney+.
Tropes associated with Moana include:
- 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.
- Accidental Passenger: In the beginning of her journey, Moana finds out that Heihei came as a stowaway in the canoe depot. The rooster panics when he realizes they are in the middle of the sea until she calms him down, telling him that the Ocean is her friend. Big mistake, for Heihei marches into the sea, forcing Moana to jump into the water to save him and almost lose the canoe. She has to put him back in the depot to keep him from walking into the sea again.
- Actor Allusion:
- Maui is seen raising his right eyebrow and doing pec-pops the same way Dwayne Johnson, his voice actor would. During the song "You're Welcome", he follows The Rock's tendency to refer to himself in the third person with "Maui can do anything but float!"
- When Lin-Manuel Miranda discovered that Jemaine Clement was playing Tamatoa, he wrote "Shiny" in the style of David Bowie rather than in the style of the rest of the soundtrack, as Clement is known for his Bowie impression. Clement even pronounces Maui's name the same way he does Bowie's in the Flight of the Conchords song "Bowie".
- 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.
- 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.
- Again with Feeling: After discovering in a vision that her father kept the voyaging nature of their people a secret, Moana says, "We were voyagers." Realizing that this explains her nigh insatiable wanderlust and love of the sea she screams the line over and over again, this time excitedly.
- Age Cut: Kid Moana dancing with her grandma on the beach transitions into teenage Moana and her grandma doing the same thing.
- 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!
- Partly subverted when it turns out that Te Fiti and Te Kā are actually one and the same entity.
- 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 That Little Boy 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Tamatoa is a giant decapod monster.
- 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 looking like paper cutout animation.
- Aside Comment: After trapping Moana inside his cave, Maui walks by Hei Hei, then grabs the chicken and says "Boat snack!" directly into the camera.
- Aside Glance: Occurs twice during Tamatoa's song Shiny. The line "I'll never hide, I can't, I'm too/Shiny" is delivered as he shifts to face directly into the camera. It's done again when he tells the audience to look up what a "decapod" is after describing himself as one.
- 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: When Moana gets past Te Ka we are treated to an island in the shape of a woman lying on her side. This is an actual island, and Te Fiti is not only missing but is MUCH larger than the island. See Wham Shot below.
- 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.
- Bare Midriffs Are Feminine: The denizens of Motonui all wear long, woven skirts, but the men and young children are all bare-chested whereas the women wear a cloth wrapped around their chests. On older women like Grandma Tala and Sina, the skirt has a high waistline that covers their midriff, but on younger women, including the eponymous Moana, the waistline is just above their belly button, leaving most of their midriff bare.
- 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 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.
- Black Comedy Burst: Basically the story is a Polynesian-based version of a Disney princess on a quest with lots of great music. However, it is peppered with moments of dark comedy.
- Gramma Tala telling a story about how the spreading darkness will soon catch them all in the jaws of INESCAPABLE DEATH to a bunch of clearly terrified children, while toddler Moana listens with delight. Tui tries to reassure and calm the children but accidentally knocks down a set of drapes that block out the sunlight and surround them with drawings of the monsters, terrifying the children even more.
- Moana asks Maui why the door to Lalotai won't open, and he tells her it requires a human sacrifice, before admitting he was just messing with her.
- Maui's response when Moana falls into the Realm of Monsters:Maui: Well, she's dead. Let's go find my hook.
- Tamatoa casually admits at one point that he ate his own grandmother, "and it took a week because she was absolutely humongous."
- Part of Tamatoa's Villain Song includes mocking Maui for the fact that his parents literally threw him into the sea to drown when he was a baby, but, well...it's still in song form.
- When Maui traps Moana in a cave in order to steal her boat, he treats Mini-Maui's concern as a joke despite that fact that Moana, as a mortal, would quickly die from lack of food or water had she not been able to escape on her own.Maui: It's a beautiful cave, she's gonna love it.
- Boastful Rap: Maui's "I Am Great!" Song "You're Welcome" has a rap part in which he keeps bragging about his great deeds.
- 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.
- Both Sides Have a Point: When the village fishermen report that they have been unable to catch any fish in the lagoon of Motunui, Chief Tui and Moana come up with opposing approaches on how to deal with the problem. Chief Tui points out that the ancient chiefs established the rule of not going beyond the reef and Tui personally experienced tragedy when he disobeyed that rule and went out into the open ocean with his friend. He wants to take the issue up with the council for further discussion. Moana believes that expanding the fishing beyond the reef is a viable solution after having learned that all other options have been explored and that it seems like there simply aren't any fish remaining in the lagoon to be caught. Even though it's been traditionally forbidden, she feels it's become necessary due to a situation the ancient chiefs never considered. However, anywhere they choose to fish would eventually become barren and the only lasting solution was to restore the Heart of Te Fiti.
- 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. He also pauses to specify he'll sing his boasts, implicitly because it's time for the Villain Song.
- Maui, at one point, preemptively admonishes Moana that if she launches into a Disney Princess song, he'll puke.
- 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.
- But Now I Must Go: Moana invites Maui to come live with her tribe but he chooses to leave.
- But Thou Must!: A Downplayed Example. At first, the ocean circumvents all of Maui's attempts to rid himself of Moana and the Heart of Te Fiti and even returns Maui to the boat when he tries to swim away. Then, later when Maui leaves in frustration after Moana's impulsiveness leads to Maui's fishhook being severely damaged, there is no attempt to force him to stay.
- 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.Maui: Enjoy your beauty rest? You know, a real wayfinder never sleeps.
- The Cat Came Back: Maui can't ditch either Moana or the Heart of Te Fiti. No matter how far he throws either one, they will always come back immediately.
- 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.
- Chekhov's Skill: Several in the fight against Te Kā:
- Maui's giant whale belly-flop, learned during his training montage and lightheartedly performed by Maui on Moana earlier on, comes in handy later when Maui fights Te Kā.
- When Moana is visited by the spirits of her people at sea she witnesses a technique to furl part of the sail with a slipknot. She uses this to surprise Te Kā with a burst of speed in their second encounter.
- When escaping the Kakamora, Maui makes a sudden turn by jumping on the front of the boat and causing it to heel over. Moana uses this trick to evade Te Kā.
- Children Are Tender-Hearted: Played with. When Moana is a toddler, she protects a baby turtle and helps it reach the ocean. However, as a Rewatch Bonus, it becomes clear the ocean was actually testing Moana's character. When she first reaches the beach, the ocean presents a shiny shell to catch her attention, but then Moana becomes aware of the birds trying to eat the baby turtle. At the same time, the ocean starts to float the shell away forcing Moana to choose between the shell or saving the turtle. When Moana's tender-hearted compassion wins out and she guides the turtle safely to the water, that's when the ocean fully reveals itself to her and presents her with the Heart of Te Fiti.
- 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 is only 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 launches into "You're Welcome" and gives her gifts as the song progresses. At the end, his trickster nature is revealed as he traps Moana in a cave and the "gifts" were really just rocks covered by illusion. It turns out he was distracting her so he could steal her boat.
- 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).
- Covers Always Lie: The promotional art for the film tends to show Pua the pig as a major character in the film, even showing him as joining Moana on her journey with Maui and Heihei. However, Pua is left back at home for the quest to return the Heart of Te Fiti.
- 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.
- Crossover 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.)
- Crunchtastic: When Tamatoa has Moana in his fangs, she dons an "Oh, Crap!" Smile and notes that he has become so "crabulous".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: After Maui has an embarrassing Shapeshifting Failure that weakens his self-confidence, Tamatoa fires up his Villain 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.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Intentionally played with in the lyrics of "How Far I'll Go". In order to reinforce that she's expected to remain on Motunui, in the second verse Moana repeats "on this island" many times.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.
- Didn't See That Coming: Said word for word by Maui when he first tosses Moana overboard and sees the ocean putting her back.
- 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 second half of Tamatoa's song, when he blocks out the light to his cave, so only the glowing bioluminescent algae is visible.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don't Sneak Up on Me Like That!: Maui sneaks up behind Moana in front of Tamatoa's cave and promptly gets smacked in the face because Moana thought he was a monster attacking from behind.
- Doomed Hometown: Moana's journey begins when Motunui is threatened by starvation due to the spreading curse so it is not doomed yet but it will be unless she leaves. She has a daydream/nightmare of its total destruction but that's it.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Much of Moana's self-doubt on her quest stems from her growing feeling that she doesn't have the skills she thinks are necessary to accomplish her quest like sailing, wayfinding, or 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 strong 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.
- Early Personality Signs: The movie shows Moana as a toddler having no fear of the ocean and how, despite being tempted by a beautiful seashell, she gives it up to help the baby sea turtle escape the birds. We then see that Moana has grown up to be brave, compassionate and yearning to explore the sea.
- 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. At least he did sacrifice his magical hook and was willing to fight Te Kā without it to even get to this point.
- 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. His being Too Dumb to Live is his defining character trait.
- 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. It is subverted once their true motives are revealed; Maui sought the heart for the sake of humans, not for himself (he was more interested in the praise he'd get for this), and Te Kā was actually Te Fiti, who wanted her heart back.
- 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.
- Tamatoa attempts to give a grand, monstrous introduction when he first meets Moana. However, as a giant crab with his eyes on separate stalks, he gets distracted because Moana is constantly looking back and forth between them.Tamatoa: Just pick an eye, babe. I can't... I can't concentrate on what I'm saying if you keep... Yeah, pick one. Pick one!
- 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.
- Fauxshadow: On two occasions, Moana is shown stealing a boat with Pua, the film's Amplified Animal Aptitude sidekick, in tow, hinting that he will be joining Moana on her eventual adventure. However, when the time comes, it's actually Heihei the Too Dumb to Live chicken who unwittingly stows away on Moana's boat, while Pua is left behind on the island. A Downplayed example in that the creators were not intentionally trying to mislead the audience. The original story was for Pua to go with Moana, but the creators felt he added too much emotional support and Heihei was substituted.
- Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter: The fearless and adventurous Moana and her tradition-following mother Sina. Moana would like to sail the ocean like her father did when he was younger, but both her parents don't approve that because it's too dangerous, and Sina encourages Moana to follow her father's rules.
- Feminist Fantasy: Moana is a strong-willed Action Girl who saves her people and restores the lost art of wayfinding. She's the only one on the island who knows she has to restore the heart of Te Fiti and embarks on her journey without hesitation. The male deuteragonist, Maui, serves as her mentor and partner. Also, in a break from Polynesian tradition, she's shown to be the next in line for becoming the chief of her village.
- Fertility God: Te Fiti, the Mother Island, is a kind and benevolent goddess who gave life to countless islands in the world. She is covered with moss and plants, and can make plant life grow from anything, even ash and soot.
- 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.
- Fire Stolen from the Gods: The Heart of Te Fiti has the power to create life and raise islands, and originally belonged to the Goddess, Te Fiti. Many wanted the heart for themselves, but it wasn't until Maui came along that anyone actually succeeded. As for why he stole it, he was hoping to give it to man so that they'll use the heart's power and hail Maui as a hero. It all eventually failed, and the heart never reached man. If someone steals the Heart of Te Fiti, she turns into a lava monster named Te Ka, bent on destroying as much as she can until she gets the heart back. Maui eventually learns from his mistake, and together with Moana, they give her the heart back.
- Fire/Water Juxtaposition: When Moana confronts Te Kā, the visuals contrast Te Kā's fury and lava with Moana's gentle but powerful ocean.
- The Foreign Subtitle: In Brazil, the movie is called "Moana - Um Mar de Aventuras" (Moana - a Sea of Adventures).
- 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 new 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.
- The Kakamora, Tamatoa, and several of the monsters of Lalotai are seen depicted on the tapestries that Tui accidentally knocks loose following Tala's story at the beginning of the movie.
- 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...
- 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 not only 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...
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- When Sina helps Moana pack for her journey, two of the items in her bag are a carrot and a hand-shaped stick, like the ones belonging to Olaf from Frozen.
- 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 from Frozen.
- When Maui first finds his hook on Tamatoa's back, one of the items near the hook is Genie's lamp.
- During the scene after Moana and Maui escape from Tamatoa where Maui accidentally shapeshifts 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.
- At the end of the film, one of the flowers visible on Motunui is clearly the magic golden flower from Tangled.
- "Gaining Confidence" Song: During the film's Darkest Hour, Tala's spirit appears to the protagonist and starts singing the "Song of the Ancestors". The first few verses are soothing whispers, as Tala tells Moana to reflect on her journey and who she really is. However, the protagonist then sings about the hardships she has overcome, growing progressively more confident as she realizes how much she has accomplished through sheer determination, until she proudly proclaims "I am Moana!" and decides to resume her journey.
- 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 ocean is one. It takes a liking to Moana when she is a baby.
- 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 somewhat allies. 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.
- Got Volunteered: When Maui condescendingly refuses to teach Moana the art of sailing and wayfinding, the Ocean takes a leftover Kakamora dart and sends it into Maui's butt cheek causing him to Face Plant on the boat deck and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. No longer able to do it himself, he has no choice but to teach Moana how to sail and wayfind.
- Gratuitous French: One lyric in Tamatoa's song is "C'est la vie, mon ami."
- Group Hug: Moana and her parents have a heartful hug upon her return to the island.
- Hamster-Wheel Power: Used by the Kakamora to deploy a giant drum on the side of their huge floating fortress.
- 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!
- Handy Mouth: During the battle with the Kakamora, Moana has rescued Hei-Hei but needs both her hands to make use of an Improvised Zip Line; she frees her hands by grabbing Hei-Hei (at the neck) in her mouth to carry him with her.
- 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.
- Heart of the Matter: The Heart of Te Fiti holds the power of creation within it, allowing its namesake to create the islands populating her world. Small wonder everyone wants it. Its loss also transformed the normally kind and sweet goddess into the fearsome demoness Te Ka.
- Hereditary Republic: As the chief's daughter and only child, Moana is set to become the next leader of her tribe.
- Heroic BSoD: 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'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.
- "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. It gives 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 fishhook back at Lalotai, even to the point of saying "I'm back." Immediately afterward, 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.
- 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
- Home Sweet Home: Moana sails away from her home on her quest to return the heart of Te Fiti to save her people. In the end she returns home to a tearful reunion with her parents complete with a big tight hug. Her father, who had been very restrictive of her desire to sail the ocean expresses his love and appreciation of her. It is a downplayed example in that after returning home Moana doesn't settle down but instead rekindles the voyager spirit in her people and they reclaim their ancient art of wayfinding and return to exploring the sea.
- Housepet Pig: Moana has a pet piglet named Pua that acts more like a dog than a pig.
- "I Am Great!" Song:
- "You're Welcome" for Maui, where he sings about his adventures in a bragging fashion.
- "Shiny" is Tamatoa singing his praise for being "shiny" and basically spinning his vanity as a virtue.
- "I Am" Song:
- "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)" for Moana. It's in the title!
- "Shiny" wherein Tamatoa praises his love for shiny things.
- Iconic Item:
- Maui's fishhook is the key to both his shapeshifting powers and his self-image.
- Moana's oar and/or the necklace Tala gives her can serve as this because she uses them in many of her scenes. In fact, Tui is frustrated by how often an oar finds itself in his daughter's hands.
- 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.
- I Know Your True Name: Moana during her song "Know Who You Are"I have crossed the horizon to find you,
I know your name.
They have stolen the heart from inside you.
But this does not define you.
- 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 zip line 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 maternal grandfather Peter Maivia.
- Insistent Terminology: Moana is not a "princess" — she is the "chief's daughter". Maui, being Maui, points out that they're almost the same thing.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: In order to soothe 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 unraveling all around the room. Cue a Mass "Oh, Crap!" by the little ones.
- Instant Sedation: The Kakamora's Tranquilizer Darts are shown to 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.
- Ironic Echo: Moana's father says "It suits you" early in the film when desperately trying to convince Moana to give up on the ocean and remain on Motonui. When he says it again after her adventure, he is complimenting her on having braved the sea and revived her people's old tradition.
- 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.
- Jaw Drop: Te Kā does this when a tiny insect (actually Maui) transforms into a whale right in front of her, with said whale being airborne meaning the subsequent splash drags her back to reality.
- Jerkass Has a Point: After Moana and Maui survive their encounter with the Kakamora, Maui continues to refuse to help restore the Heart of Te Fiti as he'd have to fight a whole ocean of monsters to do so. He asks Moana if she's ever defeated a lava monster (ie, Te Ka). Though Moana's response of "No. Have you?" is portrayed as a Take That! to the demigod, Maui is right to ask. When he had his hook, he could not defeat Te Ka. Moana is a mortal and is not expected to fare any better, and she did not once the two actually encountered Te Ka where they were both lucky to escape from the battle alive. In fact, it was Moana's own reckless judgment against Te Ka that proved that she should have taken Maui's prior warnings more seriously.
- Just in Time: During the Final Battle, when Te Kā is about to smash Maui with a ball of lave, Moana intercepts in the nick of time by holding up the glowing heart of Te Fiti.
- "Just So" Story: In the story, the explanation for many natural phenomena is "because Maui did it".
- Kick the Dog: When Tamatoa tries to remove Moana's necklace, she clutches it back saying "that's my grandma's". First he mocks her reply and goes on to tell how he ate his grandma. Then during his song "Shiny", he mocks her further.And did your granny say, "Listen to your heart"?
Be who you are on the inside?
I need three words to tear her argument apart:
Your granny lied!
- Knuckle Cracking: Maui does a neck crack in preparation for his confrontation with Te Kā.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: During "Shiny", when Tamatoa notices that Maui's out of practice with his fishhook:Ouch! What a terrible performance -
Get the hook! Get it?
- The Last Thing You Ever See: Tamatoa during "Shiny": "Soak it in, 'cause it's the last you'll ever see, C'est la vie, mon ami!"
- 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 currently not on his A-game, the song spins back up to speed as he says "Well well well".
- Little Stowaway: Heihei ended up on the boat with Moana by hiding in the storage box.
- Local Soundtrack: Te Vaka, a Polynesian band, produces the film's soundtrack alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- 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 re-discover their identity.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
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.
- The final verses of "You're Welcome" sees Maui admit that he plans to steal Moana's boat, while still in tune with the upbeat nature of the song.
I'm too shiny
- "Shiny" veers back in forth in tone between the menacing tones of a Villain Song... and upbeat '70s glam rock. While most of the song consists of Badass Boasts that fit the tone of both halves, Tamatoa's intent to kill and eat the heroes is mostly expressed in the bouncy parts, and the lyrics do not at all sugarcoat this desire. Just look at the way the lyrics swerve...
Watch me dazzle like a diamond in the rough
Strut my stuff, my stuff is so shiny
Send your armies but they'll never be enough
My shell's too tough
Maui man, you can try try try
But you can't expect a demigod to beat a decapod (look it up!)
You will die die die
Now it's time for me to take apart your aching heartMaui, now it's time to kick your heinie
Ever seen someone so shiny?
Soak it in 'cause it's the last you'll ever see
C'est la vie, mon ami
I'm so shiny
Now I eat you so prepare your final plea
Just for me
- 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.
- Market-Based Title: The title of the movie and name of the protagonist are renamed to "Vaiana" instead of "Moana" in European and most Asian releases, and while this is generally thought to be because of the existence of a now-late Italian 90's porn star named Moana Pozzi, the real reason for the name-change was because a cosmetics brand also named "Moana" owns the legal copyright to that name in Europe.
- 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."
- Medium Blending: Maui's tattoos come alive as 2D animation. It is 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 if Tui didn't want to wear it (given what happened the one time he tried to sail past the reef, that's understandable).
- 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.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: The main theater poster◊ is a downplayed version of the trope. While the voice actors' names are over the wrong character in the poster, it has the saving grace of saying Dwayne Johnson as Maui and Auli'i Cravalho as Moana.
- Monster and the Maiden: The protagonist Moana works with the demigod Maui. He starts off as a Cynical Mentor to Moana, but they become real friends by the end of the story.
- Morphic Resonance: A mild example, but whenever Maui shapeshifts, his fishhook 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.
- Mother Goddess: The goddess who created the first island out of the ocean is Te Fiti, whose heart possesses the power to create life. Inversely, without her heart, she becomes a destructive volcano demon, Te Ka, whose presence causes the world to sicken and fill with monsters.
- Multilingual Song: "We Know the Way" has lyrics in Samoan, Tokelauan, and English.
- 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 resembles Ariel's Grotto from The Little Mermaid (1989). 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 show 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.
- Myth Prologue: The movie begins with Gramma Tala telling the myth of how Maui stole Te Fiti's heart and was defeated by Te Ka. The film is then about Moana trying to recover the heart of Te Fiti.
- Narrating the Obvious: Moana when seeing the Kakamora's boat splitting up."Their boat is turning into more boats!"
- Negated Moment of Awesome: Moana just freed herself from the cave Maui locked her into and now charges from a great height onto the boat...only to fall short and plop into the water.
- 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 female 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 Celebrities Were Harmed: Lin-Manuel Miranda was aware of a brilliant Bowie tribute performed by Jermaine Clement while in Flight of the Concords. So when Miranda learned that Clement had been cast as the voice of Tamatoa, he intentionally wrote "Shiny" as a musical homage to David Bowie, who passed away during the production of Moana.
- 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.
- No Ontological Inertia: The rot on Moana's home island magically disappears after Te Fiti's return.
- 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).
- "Not So Different" Remark:
- Grandma Tala points out that the same stubbornness that keeps Moana coming back to the ocean also compels her father to keep stopping her. It's even mentioned in the song "Where You Are" with the lines "You are your father's daughter. Stubbornness and pride."
- Tamatoa points out to Maui in his Villain Song that he and Maui are both highly egotistical supernatural beings who cover their bodies with works of art. Maui, has his tattoos. Tamatoa, has his "shiny" treasures and bioluminescent algae.
- 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."
- Ocean of Adventure: The story follows Moana's journey through a mythical version of Polynesia, braving her way through adversities, a reluctant demigod, a tribe of pygmy pirates, and Lalotai the "realm of monsters" in order to return the heart of a goddess.
- Offing the Offspring: This was attempted by Maui's parents, who threw him into the ocean as a child.
- 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 only to realize 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.
- Only One Finds It Fun: Moana is the only kid who is enthralled, rather than freaked out, by Gramma Tala's story about Te Fiti's heart.
- Opening Monologue: In which Gramma Tala is teaching little kids about 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. 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.
- Parents Are Wrong: Moana wants to explore the ocean but her father is overprotective and forbids it. Eventually Moana proves herself as a capable explorer, and the entire tribe starts exploring the surrounding areas. (Moana is actually reviving an old forgotten tradition here, as the tribe used to explore all the time. But her Dad is upholding a more recent tradition, which Moana challenges.)
- Parting the Sea: At the beginning of the film, when Moana is still a toddler, the Ocean plays with her, opening up where she walks. It happens again in the finale, when Moana figures out Te Ka's true identity, and asks the ocean to let her walk to Te Ka and return the Heart of Te Fiti to her.
- Parting-Words Regret: Chief Tui gets into a fight with Moana when she says they need to brave the ocean to find Maui and persuade him to restore the heart of the Ocean. He says they're destroying the ships in storage because it's too dangerous for her or anyone else to go on a voyage to find a god. Cue his mother collapsing, and he has to go tend to her. Then he finds out, after his mother dies, that his daughter went out to sea alone, on the off-chance that her quest may succeed. It's no surprise that when Moana returns, she apologizes for going beyond the reef but Tui doesn't care. He's relieved that she is alive, and that's all that matters. There is some Anger Born of Worry but the first priority is making sure that his daughter is okay.
- 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. Then he comes back.
- 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.
- The Poorly Chosen One: After their first attempt at defeating Te Kā failed, Maui doubts Moana to be The Chosen One and tells her that the ocean chose wrong. Of course, Moana proves him wrong when she gets past Te Kā on her second attempt.
- Power Crystal: Te Fiti takes her power from a green crystal heart.
- 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.
- The Power of Love: It is Moana's strong compassion and empathy that enabled her to reach past Te Kā's rage and remind her of Te Fiti, her true self.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The te reo Māori dub changed the scene of Moana getting angry at the ocean to one that was more comedic since it originally broke a Maori cultural rule never to curse or turn your back on the sea.
- 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.
- Putting the Pee in Pool: Moana puts her hand in the ocean during her wayfinding lesson from Maui, and exclaims, "[The water]'s getting warmer!" The following shot of Maui's face, and Moana's disgusted reaction, show that Maui just relieved himself into the ocean.
- Quizzical Tilt: The way baby Moana and the animate water wave look at each other after the former was Parting the Sea to collect sea shells.
- Ragnarök Proofing: After being left in a damp cave with no attempt at maintenance for at least several decades, none of those boats (especially the small sailing boat Moana absconded with) should have been salvageable, let alone seaworthy, unless there was some manner of magic involved.
- Real Event, Fictional Cause: The film depicts the Long Pause, when Polynesians suddenly stopped sailing for roughly 2000 years after the colonization of Samoa and Fiji. According to the movie, this was caused by Maui stealing the Heart of Te Fiti, the source of the creator deity's power. Monsters and demons started to roam the seas looking for it, making navigation dangerous.
- 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.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Tui and Sina as chief and chieftainess are this ultimately. While they keep Moana from going past the shallows, it's so that she can learn about being a chieftainess from a young age. They do let her dance with her grandmother by the waves when she needs some space. Tui forbids Moana from going past the reef to stop the incoming plague because not only is it dangerous — and he can speak from experience— but it seems selfish from his point of view since Moana has spent her whole life trying to sail against his wishes. Sina, however, realizes that Moana is going to go anyway out of a sense of duty to save Monotui, helps her pack supplies, and silently bids farewell to her.
- Recoiled Across the Room: Moana and Maui's first encounter with Te Kā ends with them being recoiled a long way across the ocean.
- 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
And here they come, come, come
To the brightest thing that glitters
Mmm, fish dinners!
- Very cleverly used to show how repetitive Moana finds life on Motunui:
- Rousing Speech: Discussed by Maui.Moana: Get up.
Maui: Why? Are you gonna give me a speech? Tell me I can beat Te Kā 'cause I'm 'Maui'?
- While this attempt failed, Moana still gets him pepped up via her You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech.
- Rule of Three: Early on it is stated that a lot of unpleasant things would like to get their hands on Te Fiti's heart. Over the course of the story, Moana and Maui encounter three main antagonists, each more menacing and intimidating than the last: the Kakamora, Tamatoa, and Te Kā. Whereas the first two want Te Fiti's heart for selfish reasons, it is the third antagonist, Te Kā, who actually turns out to be its rightful owner, and is redeemed when Moana returns it to her.
- 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.
- 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 Sina 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 is worthy of being The Chosen One despite her lack of skills in sailing or wayfinding or fighting monsters.
- 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 wearing dresses, etc. Maui even tells Moana she better not randomly burst into a Disney Princess song.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Chief Tui's strict adherence to the rules of the Elders forbidding anyone to sail past the reef caused the village of Motunui to be especially vulnerable when the "spreading darkness" finally arrives. At that point, Gramma Tala has revealed to Moana that she's The Chosen One who Can't Refuse the Call Anymore forcing her to sail beyond the reef despite all Tui did to protect her.
- Shaped Like Itself: Maui refers to Tamatoa as a "beady-eyed bottom feeder". This turns out to be true, since Tamatoa is a crab.
- Shapeshifting Failure: 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 as he turns into a small red fish instead of a hawk. Trying again only causes him to rapidly shapeshift into a shark, a bug, Sven, and a pig, before returning to his normal self. 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 Villain Song "Shiny". This leads to Maui developing a case of Psychosomatic Superpower Outage.
- 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!
- Maui uses Heihei's beak to sign Moana's oar. He claims "when you use a bird to write with, it's called 'tweeting'."
- Dwayne Johnson tweeted that Maui's character design was based on his maternal grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia.
- 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. The score in this scene is also intentionally evocative of Junkie XL's work on Fury Road, even going so far as to incorporate a snippet of the melody from Fury Road's "Brothers in Arms".
- 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...
- The word Taboo 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.
- During "We Know The Way", the chief is shown navigating with the stars at one point, holding his hand up against a cluster of stars, as does his descendant Moana. The constellation in question is Orion, and it (the belt and dagger) was indeed used by Polynesian voyagers to navigate. Moana is also shown following Maui's fish hook (Manaiakalani).
- While Te Kā and Te Fiti are an amalgamation of Polynesian myths, that Te Kā is a very, VERY angry creation Goddess encompassing both the destructive nature of volcanic earth and the islands full of life that it brings is more-or-less Pele, the Hawaiian lava Goddess who was known for both her enormous temper and compassion, as well as also being able to create earth/the islands and destroy with lava. Pele is also often a victim of Maui's shenanigans causing her to lash out, and Te Kā being Te Fiti lashing out in a fit of rage after Maui goes too far is accurate.
- Sistine Steal: There is this symbolic finger-touching between little Moana and the personified ocean in an early scene.
- Slapstick: 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. She will often smack herself in the face with a mop of hair when she dramatically spins around while her hair is wet. Also, when she launches a boat into the lagoon while singing "How Far I'll Go", she triumphantly unfurls the sail after finishing the song, which immediately pulls her into a Face Plant when the wind catches it.
- Small Town Boredom: Moana lives on an island and has a strong desire to sail the ocean. Unfortunately, everyone on the island is forbidden from sailing past the reef, so she never gets the opportunity to explore the ocean. A Downplayed Example in that she does not dislike her village and is going to be their future chief. A part of Moana's character development involves her reconciling her love for her people and the strong draw of the ocean.
- 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.
- 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
- Straying Baby: Moana makes a whole montage out of it. As a toddler, she keeps running toward the ocean while her father tries to teach her about the village's ways. Tui is visibly worried when she keeps making it farther as she gets older.
- Sudden Anatomy: Tamatoa grows eyelashes when he mockingly says "That's my gramma's!", which disappear when he finishes the sentence.
- 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!!!
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- 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. In an interesting turn of events, she finally leaves because the spirit of the ocean reveals itself to her again and she realizes the only way she can save her people is to undertake the quest to restore the heart of Te Fiti.
- A teenage girl who has, at best, puttered around in a sheltered lagoon, takes a boat and boldly heads out into the open ocean on an epic quest determined that nothing will stop her... and promptly has her boat smashed apart by the real power of the ocean and would have likely drowned had the ocean not dumped her back on the shore.
- 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.
- Survival Mantra: Moana repeats her line "I am Moana of Motunui." over and over on her boat trip to Maui in order to keep herself motivated.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: Maui sacrifices his magical fishhook, which is the source of many of his powers, and to which he attaches a great deal of his self-worth, blocking a blow from the mad volcano demon to protect Moana and right a past wrong. In the end, the goddess presents him with a new one as thanks for his service.
- 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: When Moana and Maui are discussing his past experience with the Heart of Te Fiti, he calls it a "homing beacon of death" and tells her to put it away or bad things will come for it. To taunt Maui's fear which she feels is unjustified, Moana jumps up and down on the boat, waves the Heart above her head and shouts "Come and get it!!" before turning to snark at Maui. Cue the immediate arrival of the Kakamora.
- 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.
- Tranquilizer Dart: The Kakamora use blow darts that are shown to quickly paralyze their targets. The toxin is powerful enough to even affect Maui, a demigod.
- Triumphant Reprise:
Moana: And the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me.
- "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 BSoD.
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.
- Tropical Island Adventure: Obviously, as you can guess from the name, poster and Polynesian setting.
- 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. Lalotai is a compound of two Polynesian words that together literally translate to "Undersea". 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.
- Unflinching Walk: Despite the enormous lava monster running towards her, Moana calmly walks towards Te Kā while singing her song.
- 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 fishhook, when he starts ridiculing Maui in his Villain Song after the demigod's badly floundered Dynamic Entry caused by his Shapeshifting Failure.
- Villain of the Detour: Before restoring the heart of Te Fiti, Moana and Maui have to take a detour to retrieve Maui's fishhook, the source of his powers. The hook is in the lair of Tamatoa, a treasure-hoarding crab monster. The heroes have to outwit him (and experience his Villain Song) before they can escape with the hook and continue their adventure.
- 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 (with complementary beating), 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!!
- Volumetric Mouth: At the beginning of the film, when Grandma Tala finishes her story about the spreading darkness, the camera turns to show the terrified children listening to the tale. One faints and another begins to cry as their mouth takes up their entire face.
- 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 human character (and the female human characters when they are about six years old and under) go around topless. Justified because of the tropical climate and the ancient Polynesian setting.
- Wanderlust Song: "How Far I'll Go" and "We Know The Way" both express the yearning 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 fishhook 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 mini mean 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: diseased coconut trees, missing fish, black blight on rocks, etc.
- Wrecked Weapon: After the abortive first engagement with Te Kā, Maui's fishhook 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 Are Not Alone: "I Am Moana" has Moana visited by the spirits of Gramma Tala and their Voyager ancestors. While Tala gives Moana a musical pep talk, once Moana regains her confidence, the First Chief sails alongside her and they share a salute.
- You Will Not Evade Me: During their fight, Tamatoa pulls Maui back into melee range by his feet.