Over The Moon Review

Over the Moon, which was released on October 23, 2020, has quickly become one of Netflix's most popular and successful films. The movie instigates Netflix’s wish to compete with giants such as Disney and Dreamworks Studios in producing animated films for children. In fact, the film’s director, Glen Keane, is a legendary Disney animator who worked on classics such as The Rescuers, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. While hints of influence from Disney are apparent, it is easy to tell that Keane and Pearl Studios, the largely unknown production company chosen for the movie, really tried to put their own spin on the ever evolving animation industry.

The film is set in China and follows the story of an intelligent young girl named Fei-Fei. Fei-Fei builds a rocket to the moon in the hopes of proving that the mythical moon goddess named Chang'e exists. An all-star cast is involved in the film, including Phillipa Soo (HamiltonAmélie) as Chang’e, Ken Jeong (The Hangover Series, Community) as Gobi, Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve) as Mrs. Zhong, and John Cho (Star Trek Series, Harold and Kumar Series) as Ba Ba. Cathy Ang, a young Chinese-Filipina actress and singer based in New York City, makes her animated movie debut by voicing the protagonist, Fei-Fei. Another young actor, Robert G. Chiu, plays the secondary lead named Chin.

Over the Moon is amazing, for one, because of its cultural representation. The story is told by an entirely Asian cast, and revolves around Asian characters and Asian folklore. Traditional values and aspects of Chinese culture are displayed, especially through Fei-Fei’s family dynamic, in a way that feels authentic. This sense of authenticity comes from the fact that the voice actors come from the heritage being showcased in the movie. The connection between the story and the people who tell the story is vital in our modern film industry. I believe it is extremely important for young children to see themselves on screen through inspirational characters, since they can become motivated by these stories to chase their own dreams. Additionally, movies such as Over the Moon help people to learn and become enthusiastic about cultures different from their own.

Overall, the movie is beautifully executed, combining the emotions of excitement and heartache into one cohesive storyline. The animation in the beginning is very gorgeous and life-like, showing Fei-Fei’s seemingly picturesque childhood, and the myth of Chang’e and her lost love. Then, the animation becomes colorful, quirky, and crazy during Fei-Fei’s adventure in the kingdom of Lunaria. The soundtrack is lovely and engaging as well due to its diversity. There are upbeat pop songs such as “Ultraluminary,” which may remind viewers of a Lady Gaga performance, along with sadder tunes like “Rocket to the Moon.” Although I may not remember the lyrics to all the songs, I certainly felt an emotional connection to most of them.

I think the lesson of the story is quite mature for a children’s movie, yet one that is important to learn from and remember at any age. Fei-Fei, through her journey, understands how to deal with loss and the changing world around her as a result of it. Specifically, she learns that you can always have room in your heart to love others while continuing to remember those that are gone. While I myself have not dealt with a profound loss, this movie easily resonated with me on a smaller level. I remember when starting college, I was afraid that all of my friends would forget about me, since they were away for months at a time and making new connections. The complete opposite happened: my relationships with my friends have evolved with our new circumstances without there being a loss of love. It is great that Over the Moon can both introduce and remind people of the idea that love is unconditional. 

The lesson Fei-Fei learns becomes more significant and relevant when finding out what occurred during the production of the film. Audrey Wells, the famous screenwriter, film director, and producer, wrote the screenplay for Over the Moon. Sadly, Wells passed away in 2018 following a battle with cancer. This means she wrote Fei-Fei’s story knowing she would not be around to see its completion. The movie, therefore, is meant to be a love letter to Wells’ daughter and husband, and serves as her own personal how-to guide for her family to deal with her loss. I believe that the writer’s personal intentions make the film so much more impactful and definitely a must-watch for all.