/ Movie Reviews 2016 / Moana – Movie Discussion

Moana – Movie Discussion

Stacey Tuttle on November 25, 2016 - 2:30 pm in Movie Reviews 2016

Moana is an adventure story about a girl who is trying to find her purpose in life. She loves her home, but she also longs to leave it. Her father wants her to stay close. Her mother is trying to keep the peace. Her grandmother is encouraging her to follow her heart. Moana is caught in the middle, trying to please her family, but also trying to understand why she feels she has to leave. Furthermore, the ocean (a god-like figure in this movie) called her, chose her, to fix what was broken in the land—a calling her parents didn’t know about. As Moana struggles to find her identity and fulfill her destiny, she has a lot to teach us.

  1. The people who are hardest on us are often the ones who are most like us. Moana’s father was hard on her. She assumed it was because he didn’t understand her but her mother said it was because he did understand her. It was because they were so much alike. He only wanted to save her from making the mistakes he made.
    • Who are the people who are hardest on you? Why do you think that is?
    • Who are you hard on? Why?
    • What were the differences between Moana’s dad and her grandmother in their relationship to Moana? Who was the most effective in helping Moana reach her destiny? Why? What can you learn from that?
  2. Our identity can give us our purpose. The big question Moana kept asking was “who was she meant to be”? When she discovered that her ancestors were voyagers, everything made sense. She had longed to adventure and travel and leave her island and now she knew why. As she set out on her voyage to save her people and her island, her grandmother told her to say, “I am Moana of Motusi. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Tafiti.” Her purpose statement started with an identity statement. Once she knew who she was, her purpose was clear. We see the same thing in the Bible. God told Jesus (and the world) “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” That statement was an identity statement and it was what launched Jesus into his destiny…to save the world. If we want to find our purpose in life, maybe we need to start with our identity. Who are we? What are we meant to be? And to answer that question, like Moana, we need to look back, to our history and to our Creator. (You can see Isaiah challenging the Israelites to do just this in Isaiah 51:1-3.)
    • How would knowing who you are help you to know your purpose?
    • How would having a firm sense of your identity help you as you set out on your purpose in life?
    • How do you think looking to your past and looking to your Creator might help you find your identity?
  3. When we lose our purpose, we can lose our sense of identity, too. Grandmother told Moana that, “To protect our people voyaging was forbidden, and we have forgotten who we are.”   When the people lost their purpose, they lost the sense of who they were. Our purpose and our identity are closely linked. When we quit doing the things which we were created to do, we get lost, restless and unhappy.   As Christians, the Bible warns us over and over not to forget our purpose. I’m not just talking about our grand, unique-to-us purpose, but our general purpose that we all have as humans and believers on earth. Love God and love each other. That, above all else, is our purpose. And, we when do that, we are identified as believers. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
    • How are purpose and identity connected in this movie? In real life?
    • What is our purpose as Christians? How does that help us with our identity?
    • If we lose our purpose, why would we also feel we have lost our identity?
  4. Well-meaning people who love us don’t always give the best advice. Moana’s mother meant well. She was trying to bring peace between Moana and her father. She told Moana, “Sometimes who we wish we were, what we wish we could do—it’s just not meant to be.” She meant well, but she didn’t fully understand the call on Moana’s life. She didn’t know the ocean (a good metaphor for God in this case) had chosen Moana and would help her in her journey. Moana’s grandmother was really the only one who truly supported her, because she was the only one who truly understood the calling on her life. This is not intended to be a license for kids to disobey their parents!!! But it is important to realize that sometimes God calls us to something that those who love us most may not know or see. Think of Mary who had been told she would have the Messiah—at first there wasn’t anyone who believed her. (Of course, God eventually let Joseph in on it, too.) Or think about Joseph—his brothers thought he was crazy when he said he’d be their ruler. It is important for us, when we counsel others, to prayerfully consider what God may be calling them to do before we naysay their plans. And it’s equally important for us, when we are listening to the advice of others, to be humble enough to hear what people say, but also wise enough to subject all things to the counsel of God. What HE says is far more important that what others say. And finally, when others give us advice that we feel goes against what God is saying, we need to remember that they mean well and they love us…maybe God just hasn’t told them what He’s told us.
    • Have you ever felt like God called you to something that others couldn’t see/didn’t know?
    • Have you ever had someone mean well but give bad advice? How did you respond?
    • Have you ever given anyone else advice that you realized later was wrong?
    • How do you know if God is calling you to do something?
  5. When we leave with blessing, we leave well. Moana tried to follow her heart and leave her home without her father’s blessing and things ended in near disaster. When we do things out of order, and without the blessing of our parents or authority figures, there are consequences. When she left the second time, Moana did so with the blessing of all her family. This time, her journey was blessed. She was better equipped and the ocean helped her. When she left with blessing, she was blessed.
    • Have you ever tried to do things out of order, and without your parents’ blessing? How did that go?
    • How are things different when you humble yourself and wait for the blessings of others before stepping into something new?
  6. The ocean doesn’t help you – or does it?! Maui told Moana, “The ocean doesn’t help you. You help yourself.” It sounds good, but he was wrong. The ocean did help Moana. The ocean in this case is a lot like God. It chose Moana for a purpose, and it helped her along the way. There’s a poplar phrase about God that’s very similar. “God helps those who help themselves.” This also sounds good and wise, but it’s also wrong. God helps those who cannot help themselves. He saved us when we were dead in our sins. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus certainly could not help himself. I’m not saying we should therefore sit around and do nothing and just expect God to do it all for us. That is laziness and God hates laziness. So yes, we are made in the image of a God who acts which means we too have a responsibility to act, and to do. But to say God won’t help us or that He will only help us if… those are wrong statements. God has always been about the business of helping us when we can’t help ourselves. (Not the same as saying He helps those who won’t help themselves.)
    • Do you know people who think God doesn’t help people? How do you feel about that?
    • Do you think God only helps those who help themselves? Why or why not?
    • Can you think of times God helped someone who couldn’t help themselves? How is that different from someone who won’t help themselves?
  7. Sometimes what’s obvious to everyone else isn’t so obvious to you. Maui and Moana argued about whether or not she was a princess. His final argument was, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you are a princess.” Sometimes you can’t see what’s obvious to everyone else, especially when it comes to seeing yourself. We often live in denial of what others say about us because we don’t agree. If we just take a second and listen to what everyone else is saying about us, rather than denying it, we might just find that people see good things in us that we just might want to embrace. Jesus was often doing this, seeing good things in people that they couldn’t see in themselves, like when He called Peter a rock or told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. These things weren’t true yet, but God saw them coming and spoke them into existence. When He does that for us we have a choice, to deny it or embrace it.
    • What things do other people say about you that you don’t see or agree with? Are they good things or bad things? If they are good things, how would it change you if you simply accepted and embraced the way other people see you? If they are bad things, is it possible that you may have some areas you need to grow in?
  8. Sometimes what’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to everyone else. Moana had finally embraced the fact that the ocean had chosen her. She told Maui, “The ocean sent me.” I was obvious to her, but not so obvious to him. “You’re what, 8? Can’t sail? Perfect choice.” She didn’t let his criticism sway her, though. “It chose me,” she replied with conviction. When you know God’s call on your life, the enemy will try to tell you you’re wrong and he’ll use other people to do it. Certainly nearly the whole world doubted Jesus’ calling. Good thing he wasn’t dissuaded by their mocking nor their persecution.   He stayed the course because He knew that God had sent Him to die for the sins of man.
    • Is there anything that you feel confident of that other people don’t see in you? How do you respond when other people doubt your calling?
  9. Our self-talk matters. Moana is a great example of good self-talk. She consistently tells herself good things about who she is and her purpose to keep her from becoming discouraged or getting off track. “The ocean chose you for a reason.” “I am Moana of Motusi. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Tafiti.” In fact, she has a whole song, her “I AM” song which declares what she loves, who she is descended from and her purpose. So often we sabotage ourselves with our self-talk. Moana does not. She disciplines herself to speak life and purpose to herself. There is such power in this. “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.” “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
    • How did Moana’s self-talk help her on her journey?
    • What is your self-talk like? Does it help you or hurt you?
    • If your self-talk was limited to things that were true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, how would it change?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of lessons to be learned from Moana; I’ve only scratched the surface. There are so many other great lessons, like when Tafiti lost her heart, she turned from something creative into something destructive. She wasn’t an enemy to be defeated so much as she was a hurting being to be healed. Also, Maui’s identity was wrapped up in his hook, and when he lost it, he felt like he was nothing. In the end, however, he realizes who he is is about what’s inside of him, not about what’s outside of him. Or the little chicken who seems dumb and pointless, but has a purpose and a vital role to play. There is rich material here if only you will watch it with eyes to see.

Click here to read quotes from Moana.


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  • March 2, 2017

    One of the quotes is written a little off… “I am Moana of Motunui. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Te Fiti.”