Moana - 2016
Age-appropriateness: Many references to a spirit world that parallels the Bible in some ways, but drastically differs in others. Uses of magic. Some rebellious behavior.
Overview: In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. While family-friendly with its fun music and inspirational underlying message, Moana will need some heavy spiritual clarification. The movie discusses the spiritual-world in depth and in many ways, so this is a great opportunity to point to the Bible in terms of what elements actually exist in the world we live in.
Themes: identity, calling, family, ancestry, destiny, family values, spirituality, arrogance, creation, sin, curse, polytheism, hope, approval, greed
The Quick 3
Ask these quick questions to hit the major themes of the film.
1. Purpose/calling. What is the purpose of your like? What do you feel called to do?
Moana is on a journey to find out who she is truly meant to be. The movie follows her discerning her calling in life. Our “calling” really breaks down to “why we were put on this Earth”.
2. God. In what ways was Maui like God? In what ways was he not like God?
Maui is a demigod that can change forms with his magical fish hook. This is entirely make-believe and there’s no one like Maui that actually exists in the world. A “demigod” is someone who is a lesser-version of God, being like people but having the powers of God. Jesus was different, because he was fully God.
3. Parents. What do your parents try to stop you from doing? Do you feel like they ever hold you back from doing fun things?
Moana’s parents didn’t want her to travel out into the ocean because it seemed too dangerous. They wanted to keep her safe and help her grow up to be as healthy as possible.
After The Movie Discussion Guide
Follow this 5-10 minute discussion guide to drive an in-depth conversation.
1. Parent self-evaluation: Moana’s parents were over-protective in the sense that they feared her moving out of their village to follow her calling. Is there any aspect of your parenting that fears your children leaving the house one day? It’s our job as parents to raise empowered adults, pointing them to Jesus every step along the way. Then, the difficult part: sending them out into the world to follow the specific calling God has put on their life (not the calling we’ve determined for them).
2. Parent resource: Adults often ask kids, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. That might be the wrong question to ask. “Who do you want to be” is a far better one. As parents, it’s our goal to focus on who are our is becoming, because “who they are” will follow them into everything they do. Their character and integrity are far more important than the work they’ll do. For further study into being this type of parent, check out Parenting Beyond Your Capacity.
3. Te Fiti’s heart created life itself and she shared her powers with the world. While Te Fiti is a made-up legend in the movie, the story about the existence of the God in the Bible is real. God has always existed, and he is perfect in every way. He created everything and he freely shares his goodness with the things he creates. What are your favorite things in God’s creation?
4. Maui is a demigod that can change forms with his magical fish hook. This is entirely make-believe and there’s no one like Maui that actually exists in the world. A “demigod” is someone who is a lesser-version of God, being like people but having the powers of God. Jesus was different, because he was fully God. In John 5:18, we see that Jesus calls God His own Father, making him equal to God himself. Jesus is fully man and fully God. All at the same time. It’s crazy! And the world hasn’t seen anything like it since (not even Maui). In what ways was Maui like God? In what ways was he not like God?
Read this article to understand How to Talk To Your Kids about Magic.
5. Moana is on a journey to find out who she is truly meant to be. The movie follows her discerning her calling in life. Our “calling” really breaks down to “why we were put on this Earth”. Read this article to understand How to Talk to Your Kids about Their Purpose/Calling.
6. As a leader, Moana had to make some tough decisions that not everyone agreed with. Have you ever had to make a decision that was different from what the people around you thought you should do?
7. The movie mentions “gods” (plural) numerous times. The fancy word for this worldview is “polytheistic” (belief in more than one god). Christianity is “monotheistic” in that it believes in one God. For further references in the Bible on this topic, check out Isaiah 43:10-11, John 17:3, & 1 Timothy 2:5.
Minute By Minute Guide
Use this break down of the entire movie in addition to the “After the Movie” discussion guide. Great for repeat viewings.
:01 The movie begins with a story similar to the very first book of the Bible. It starts with the words, “In the beginning”, followed by an account of creation quite different from the Bible. Take some time to read the creation account in Genesis in an age appropriate Bible. Talk about the differences you see from what is explained in this movie.
:02 Maui steals the heart of Te Fiti. Maui decides to take power into his own hands, taking the heart for himself, and then darkness spread throughout the world. Read Genesis 3 and look for similarities in the account of Adam and Eve, who chose to take the apple from the tree, rebelling against God’s commands. After their decision, sin entered the world. What are some ways that you sin? Times that you go against the commands of God because you think your way is better?
:04 Gramma’s story paints the picture of darkness and hopelessness, but she looks forward to the day when hope will be restored and the heart will be found. When we look around our world, what are some of the bad things that exist? We look to Jesus to make his promises come true, and one day God says he will “wipe away every tear” and he’ll make the world new again! How hopeful are you that this world’s darkness will one day be gone?
:08 “Where You Are”. Chief Tui tells Moana that it’s important for her to know where she came from, and that the Village of Motunui is all she’ll ever need. Talk about the place where you grew up. What did you like/dislike about it? Did it have everything you’d ever need?
:09 Tui sings to Moana that she must find happiness right where she is. Are you able to find happiness right where you are, no matter what that looks like? When is the most difficult time for you to find happiness in your life? Is there anything that might help shift your perspective to finding the joy in those difficult times?
:13 When talking about the insane chicken, Moana says that “sometimes our strengths lie beneath the surface and there’s more to us than meets the eye”. What are your strengths that go beneath the surface of who you are? (Examples might be: trustworthy, honest, hard-working, patient, helper, kindness, etc.)
:15 Moana disagrees with the “one rule” on the island of not going beyond the reef. Are there any “old rules” in your family that you think need to be updated? What rules in your house do you disagree with? (Take time to explain “why” certain rules exist, not just “what” they are)
:16 “How Far I’ll Go”. Moana makes the decision to go beyond the reef. Do you think she’s making the right decision? Why or why not?
:32 Moana is scared to leave the comfort of her home to do something she doesn’t know how to do. Yet she leaves in order to follow her calling. How much bravery would this take? Have you ever had to use that kind of bravery in your life?
:38 “You’re Welcome”. Even though he’s using his manners, Maui is self-centered as he boasts about his accomplishments. Maui is incredibly arrogant. Arrogance is "the attitude of being overly proud of yourself”. Has there ever a time when you’ve been arrogant?
:44 Maui is afraid of the heart of Te Fiti because it represents his biggest failure. He calls it a curse and his future actions are based on past mistakes. Is there something from your past that affects the way you make decisions today?
:51 Maui’s deepest motivation is to be loved by people as a hero. That’s a shaky ground to build your life on. While the approval of people can be encouraging, it’s not something to build your life on because people will ultimately let you down if you but your entire life in their hands. Jesus told a story once about building your house upon the rock, not the sand, so that you’ll have a firm foundation to build off of (Matt. 7). Jesus says that we should center our entire life around God, not the approval of other humans. Maui comes to this realization later on in the movie, saying that his pursuit of human approval was “never enough”. How badly do you want to be loved by other people? Who’s approval do you want the most?
:52 Maui describes “wayfinding” as knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been, which allows you to know where to go. Do you understand how your upbringing has influenced who you are today? Do you use that to set the course for your future?
1:01 “Shiny”. Tamatoa lives his life hoarding shiny things and living alone in the ocean. While he’s acquired a lot of treasure, do you think he’s living a fulfilling life? What’s his life missing?
1:30 Te Ka was defeated with compassion and empathy, not by force or violence. Jesus said to love your enemies (Luke 6:27-36). Who are some of your “enemies” right now? How can you respond to them with kindness and love rather than fighting them back?