That’s right. Disney’s next animated movie, Moana, has Lin-Manuel Miranda all over it. He wrote some of the music, along with Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina. (If you’re a Hamilton fan, you might be interested to know that Phillipa Soo does some voice work on Moana as well.)
Lin-Manuel made an appearance this past weekend at the Festival People en Espanol at the Javits Center, and I went to hear him speak, as well as see some scenes from Moana that haven’t been released to the public yet.
When It Rains, It Pours
He found out that he’d gotten the Moana job on the same day that he found out his wife was pregnant, which according to him was not ideal. It was more like, I’m so happy for us, now I have to get on a plane to New Zealand to do some research for the movie! When it rains, it pours.
Lin-Manuel talked to us about how to survive while you’re struggling. “If you love it, you’ll find room for it.” He recommended that you be nice to everybody, from the person handing you coffee at Starbucks to people who work under you, because you never know when someone will be in a position to give you a job!
Next up for Lin-Manuel is the new Mary Poppins movie (don’t worry, it’s a sequel, not a remake). He’s busy packing up to move to London with his wife and son for a year. He joked that his kid was going to return to Washington Heights with an unusual accent.
I knew nothing about Moana except for the trailer, which I loved, but I was able to see four or five scenes and got a great sense of the movie’s focus and humor. Disney is into detail, and according to one of the animators on the movie, Jorge Ruiz, the team travelled extensively throughout the South Pacific to get the feel of the movie just right.
The music that I heard was wonderful. The characters are funny, the adventure has a Mad Max feel, and the animation is, of course, breathtaking. There was a scene where the movie’s heroine and title character, Moana, first becomes enchanted with the ocean as a toddler. Disney has always done water well, but here the water was an actual character. It was amazing.
The best part is that after I came home and described what I’d seen to my family, they all said they wanted to see it. I mean, it’s rather unheard of that all four of us, ranging in age from twelve to forty-five, want to see the same movie. But that’s the magic of Disney.
Moana hits theaters on November 23rd.