Kids’ movie ‘Moana’ throws adults a bone with an awesome ‘Mad Max’ homage

Disney’s “Moana” features a chase scene straight out “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Disney’s “Moana” sees a 16-year-old Polynesian girl cross the ocean in an effort to restore her native Pacific Islands to the lush, green sanctuary they once were.

The movie has more than an odyssey and a female lead in common with 2015’s summer blockbuster, “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

“Moana” includes a subtle, but undeniable homage to the action-adventure movie, which is set in a future, desert wasteland.

Halfway through the film, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) and her traveling companion, a mythical demigod by the name of Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), encounter a tribe of anthropomorphic coconuts called kakamora. Moana remarks, “They’re kind of cute.”

Then the kakamora paint pearly white teeth on their armor and take up arms.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Their ship emerges from the fog, revealing a massive fleet of pirate ships.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Moana and Maui race in the opposite direction, but the kakamora follow in hot pursuit.

The intensity recalls the epic chases in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” when Max, Furiosa, and their crew try to outpace their foes over deserted sand dunes.

In “Moana,” the percussion swells as the coconut-clad creatures – who carry staffs and axes made from shark teeth – make gains on the protagonists. Their painted faces mimic those of the War Boys from “Mad Max.” Even the large, ramshackle vessels are reminiscent of Immortan Joe’s brigade, if you swap out the wood paneling for industrial finishes. There’s no heavy metal music or flame-throwing guitarist to build suspense, but the effect still works.

At one point, the kakamora attempt to board Moana’s canoe by tossing rope from one vessel to the other. They swing over, much like the chalk-faced War Boys who jump vehicles during one action-packed sequence. The movie used performers from Cirque de Soleil in filming.

As Business Insider’s Kim Renfro points out in her review of “Moana,” the scene is like a PG-take on the deranged car chases in “Mad Max.”

You can see for yourself in theaters now.