This review is going to be a bit biased, seeing how I called into work an extra day last week and my 3 year old sat by me, snuggled, and paid attention to the entire one hour and thirty five minute run time of this movie. Totally worth it. OVER THE MOON, if you watch it, might seem a little bit generic to you, and it is unless you are familiar with Chang’e, the Chinese Goddess of the Moon and her history in their culture’s folklore. It’s another one of those “learning acceptance to change” adventures, where a young girl, who lost her mother four years earlier to what I presume was cancer, is about to be integrated into another half family. The father fell in love with another woman after his wife’s death, and this woman has her own son she is going to bring into this new family. The young girl, who’s name is Fei Fei, gets upset and doesn’t want to accept this change or get over her mother’s death, so she builds her own rocket ship and blasts off to the moon (I presume this entire movie was in Fei Fei’s head), hoping to meet this Chang’e and prove that she is real. Fei Fei also hopes that she can help Chang’e (DO YOU GET IT YET?!? CHANGE!!!) with her romantic tragedy described in her folklore and in return maybe the goddess can help Fei Fei deal with the tragedy of her mother’s death. Tit for tat, if you will. The movie is a computer-animated musical adventure family dramedy, and it is a solid, albeit, very familiar film. Maybe because it has a lot of similar beats of another film produced by the same company, Abominable (my son’s first film in a movie theater). It’s a little fishy that Over The Moon is the only second film produced by Pearl Studios, yet it borrows (and sometimes blatantly rips off) their first produced film. This film has been getting some Oscar buzz for Best Animated Movie and the reason for that is that this is the last film written by storyteller Audrey Wells (she died of cancer in 2018), who brilliantly adapted the novel The Hate U Give into one of my favorite films of 2018. The film was directed by Glen Keane, who at age 66, and former supervising animator at Disney with classics on his resume such as Pete’s Dragon, The Rescuers, Aladdin, and Beauty In The Beast, gets his first gig directing an entire feature. These reasons were probably why Netflix was over the moon to produce and distribute this film…pun intended.
But the movie is good I promise. There are several great musical numbers, more so than the mediocre Frozen 2, and the film’s animation is bright and mesmerizing…at least to young children as my son kept saying “wow” throughout his experience. Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo, who was also recently in The Broken Hearts Gallery which was a good movie but didn’t really showcase any of her vocal talents, is in this, and uses her talents gloriously. She voices Chang’e, and her opening introductory number was a memorable enough song that I’m still humming it out loud randomly almost a week later. The voice acting is great all around here, with Ken Jeong playing a pangolin (funny if you consider the multiple stories of the origin of COVID-19) who is not introduced until an hour into the film for some odd reason, but it was just enough not to have Jeong over do it and become annoying. I tagged Sandra Oh and John Cho in this article, but don’t watch this based on just those two names alone as they have less than 15 lines between the two of them. It’s really the Phillipa Soo, Cathy Ang (Fei Fei), and Robert Chiu (stepbrother Chin) show as they are present for most of the run time, and they all voice act their hearts out. Soo and Chiu have a fun, musical, rhythmic ping pong tournament competing for a McGuffin prize, there is a hilariously fun motorcycle gang of antagonist biker ‘chicks’, and the ending, while predictable as all get out, will probably make your eyes release several pent up tears of emotion. The whole problem I had with the movie was the familiarity and predictable nature of it, so if that kind of plot beat for beat shit doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy this movie even more so than I did. Netflix, from what I can tell, at least has an eye for their original animated films even though most of their live action ones are crap. I am over the moon that the streak isn’t broken…again…pun intended.