film & game reviews, the retro way.
OVER THE MOON
Ruthie Ann Miles
One of the Best Animated Feature nominees at the 93rd Academy Awards, Over The Moon is a 3D animated film following a young girl struggling to come to terms with her mother's untimely death and so seeking answers from legendary Moon goddess Chang'e.
An American and Chinese co-production by Pearl Studios and Netflix Animation, the film tells the story of Fei Fei (voiced by Cathy Ang), a young girl who finds out that her father is ready to remarry years after her mother's passing and build a rocket to the Moon where she expects goddess Chang'e to help remind her father of the wife, Fei Fei assumes, he's forgotten. Taking a page from Pixar's Up, Over The Moon opens by totally breaking your heart and it does so beautifully, not to mention through song. It's very clear from the beginning that this is set to not only be a heartfelt story of loss and moving on but also a love letter to Chinese culture. From the gorgeously rendered settings to the depiction of the making of delicious-looking mooncakes for the Moon Festival, the relationships between all the characters and the telling of the Chang'e legend, Over The Moon feels like a labor of love and far more attentive to the culture it's paying homage to than many of Disney's films, which often can seem like reductive, "Hollywoodized" takes on non-American cultures.
Over The Moon also takes a page from 2015's The Little Prince as Fei Fei, like the little girl character in that movie, also travels to space using a makeshift flying machine and discovers a surreal fantasy world. The world in question, Chang'e's Moon palace, is a fun, colorful setting where anything can happen: think the Emerald City crossed with the inner world of Inside Out or Soul's afterlife. Once Fei Fei reaches this place her mother had told her about since she was a child, she finds that it isn't exactly what she thought it would be like and her journey of self-discovery begins. There are some modern flourishes in this movie that do make sense seeing as this is a little girl's idea of what this Moon world would be like but Chang'e's Lady Gaga-esque entrance and the whole rap battle between her and the little boy Chin seem a tad unnecessary. The film's willingness to get silly and not take itself too seriously, however, is refreshing considering the emotionally heavy-going opening sequence.
Over The Moon more than deserves its Academy Award nomination as it is a very pretty movie in terms of visuals and everything else. It has likeable characters, a lot of clever ideas worthy of Pixar's best work and some surprisingly catchy songs.
Well worth a watch.