In the days since seeing Disney’s latest masterpiece Moana I’ve become obsessed with one thing.
This. Idiot. Chicken.
Let me be quite clear here. This chicken is an idiot. An idiot of such staggering idiocy that he may actually go the full 360 and be a genius. It’s 2016. Anything’s possible.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this guy, but it’s worth stating a few serious points because while he’s the comedic star of the movie, he does underline a couple of important points it’s trying to make.
1. Moana’s really genuinely lovely. When she finds out Hei Hei has accidentally stowed away on her boat, she doesn’t panic and she doesn’t get angry. It’d be understandable if she did; Hei Hei is in no way prepared for life on the ocean, screams endlessly when he realises where he is, and repeatedly swallows things, falls into the sea, and generally gets in the way. He’s a pain in the arse, in other words, but Moana always keeps her calm and keeps him safe. It’s genuinely touching. He’s an idiot, but he’s her idiot and she takes care of him no matter what.
2. Hei Hei has a moment of heroism. Early in the film, we see Hei Hei eating a rock. It’s a genius gag and one that’s quite brilliantly animated for maximum comedic effect. He struggles with food throughout, in fact, for example, being unable to know where to peck to pick up seeds. So when he picks up the Heart of Te Fiti in the finale, we expect another complication for Moana. Surely Hei Hei’s going to swallow it or kick it off the boat and into the ocean? It’s not his fault. He’s just an idiot. But he doesn’t. Instead, he keeps it in his mouth and passes it to Moana. Why? Because somewhere in that daft old brain of his, he understood something: the goodness of Moana and why this journey is important to her. He’s an idiot, but he’s her idiot and he’ll take care of her no matter what.
Maybe Hei Hei didn’t accidentally get on the boat at all then. Maybe it was intentional all along, his daft way of protecting his friend, even if it’ll baffle and terrify him to do so. Reading too much into it? Maybe. But Moana is all about identity and how our true selves lie within us. Hei Hei, like Moana, just needed a journey to discover it.