Last weekend, after the tryptophan-induced daze and gluttony of meals afterward, the five of us rushed into the Calexico Theatre in a last-minute decision to see its $5 Thanksgiving weekend evening showing of Disney’s new feature film, “Moana.” We weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into as we sat down and let the vivid colors and catchy tunes overwhelm and easily entertain from the first moment until the very last. After the applause subsided, my 8-year-old sprung from his seat and declared his approval. My daughter immediately wanted to listen to the soundtrack. My oldest was ready to see another showing. While I enjoyed the laughs and the tears (Thank You, Motherhood), what I really enjoyed was the character arc of the lead.

In short, Moana, the heir to the throne of her island’s people, sets out on an adventure that not only takes her on a physical journey, but a mental one as well. Not unlike Disney’s smash hit’s lead character Queen Elsa of “Frozen,” she finds strength in herself and what once set her apart will eventually only prove her ability to lead with incomparable fortitude and grace. What’s more, this is not a tale of two opposites falling for each other or forbidden love forging through. It’s a love story of another, just as important tale: a love for her people, her homeland, her heritage.

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