ByElise Jost, writer at
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!" Twitter @elisejost
Elise Jost

Turkey enthusiasts will agree with me on this one: Thanksgiving couldn't come soon enough! And this year, there's an extra reason to look forward to the holiday: The release of Disney's Moana, which will hit theaters November 23, 2016. Moana's bound to be a first on plenty of levels: The first Polynesian Disney princess, voiced by the youngest actress ever, Moana won't be after a love interest, instead going on an adventure to find herself.

So if you're beyond excited for the release of an oceanic adventure infused with traditional Pacific legends, what do you do until the release? Do you watch this adorable Japanese trailer over and over again? (Personally, I've fallen completely for the wide-eyed baby blurting out its cute baby nonsense while casually becoming best friends with the ocean.) And if you're already hooked on the themes raised by Moana in its trailer and character announcements, they've probably reminded you of other animation gems. Here are 5 classics to discover or watch again, all seemingly sharing at least one major theme or character type with Moana.

1. Pocahontas

Moana or not, if you haven't marveled at the beauty of Disney's Pocahontas, it's time to remedy to that! The timeless tale of love and nature earns its spot on the list because it features a wise old grandmother, just like Moana's Gramma Tala. Moana's confidante is voiced by Rachel House, and she'll certainly provide our heroine with that much needed deviation from the rule of her father, the chief of the village.

2. Ponyo

One of Hayao Miyazaki's many masterpieces, Ponyo's similarity to Moana is evident. Both stories are rooted in the ocean, and both mix myth and reality. What's more, Ponyo is also about the coming of age of a young girl named Ponyo, who goes from fish to human the day she meets Sosuke. It's a brilliant movie full of Studio Ghibli's magic, subtly tackling the themes of childhood and parenting with visuals gorgeous as ever.

3. The Croods

The Croods seems to have slipped through a few nets when it was released the same year as Frozen, but it was successful enough to earn a sequel! It's a hilarious prehistorical story that's all about family — an aspect that we'll surely find in Moana, which also happens to be set 2,000 years ago.

4. Brave

Sure, Frozen's Elsa has become the poster child for the "I don't need no man" princess, but Pixar's Brave is just as worth the watch. Merida is as fiery as her hair is red, and would probably be an inspiration to Moana if our Polynesian princess had had movies on her island. As for the animation itself, it'll be fascinating to see how the depiction of curly hair has evolved since Brave!

5. Big Hero 6

Moana's companion, the demi-god Maui, is super powerful, but also looks like he's a little clumsy. As for his personality, he's surely got a heart as big as his chest. Does that ring any bells? It might remind you of the adorable Big Hero 6, which sees an inflatable robot called Baymax waddle along Hiro, a young but tormented genius.

Are you looking forward to Disney's Moana? Have you seen any of the movies above?


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