Netflix is taking a big swing in order to take on the animation juggernaut, Walt Disney Studios. Over the Moon is directed by Oscar Winner Glenn Keane, who made his name by working on classic Disney Animated films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast – to name a few – and has an Allstar cast with John Cho, Margaret Cho, Sandra Oh, Kimiko Glenn, Ken Jeong, and newcomer Cathy Ang.
Over the Moon tells the story of an adventurous girl, Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), who builds a rocket ship in order to fly to the moon and meet the mythical goddess, Chang’e (Phillipa Soo). However, the story of Chang’e is a sad one. According to Chinese mythology, it is also the reason for the Autumn Festival. Chang’e was married to a renowned archer, Houyi.
During this time, 10 suns had risen in the sky and began scorching the earth. The leaders asked Houyi to shoot down 9 and in return received an elixir of immortality. However, not wanting to take it without his beloved wife, he hid it. Houyi’s apprentice threatened Chang’e to give to him, but she refused and took it herself to keep it away from him. This caused Chang’e to float into the sky landing on the moon waiting for her love, Houyi, to join her.
Does Over The Moon live up to the hype?
On the surface, Over the Moon may seem like your typical children’s film. However, the animated musical is about much more than it seems. Over the Moon takes on the heavy subject of grief and moving on while not ignoring the fact that children have to process large losses as well, not just their adult counterparts. In order to keep this story entertaining while covering this heavy topic, Over the Moon takes place during the Autumn Festival and is also a musical!
The composers did a great job of creating music that fit both Earth and Lunaria (the moon) separately. While at home the music is what you’d expect – heartfelt, story-driven, etc. While on the moon, however, the Goddess Chang’e who is a K-Pop Music Queen! Composer Helen Park said it was her goal to make an epic workout song, and the girl did just that. I’ve added it to my playlist.
A True Treat To Watch
Over the Moon is a joy to watch. I appreciated the attention to detail to Chinese Culture, I loved seeing the different anamorphic animals on Lunaria that are also apart of Chinese Culture. I also enjoyed that this film doesn’t shy away from a tough subject for adults and children alike.
However, I do wish they had chosen a different trope to follow in order to tell the story of grief. It seems that the go-to, lazy story writing, giving a character an internal struggle from the get is to kill a parent. Seriously, watch any children’s’ animated movie released in the last 20 years and I can guarantee at least 98% have a parent die in the first 20mins. We really need to let this go (pun intended) and find a new and interesting way to build character.
My other issue was the pacing. Even though the film clocks in at 90 mins, it definitely felt like 2 hours. The time on Earth felt incredibly slow, but once Fei Fei gets to the Moon the pace picks up and the story gets much more interesting and fun.
In the end, Over the Moon is definitely worth a watch – a rewatch, however, probably not.