Over The Moon Movie Review
Love, loss, life…Over the Moon is directed by Glen Keane, who used to be with Disney before and has worked on such iconic films as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty And The Beast. Hence, there’s a distinct Disney influence in the film. It’s reflected most in the hand-drawn scenes when Fei Fei’s mother acquaints her with the doomed love story of the moon Goddess. The castle in the sky, the cuddly moon residents who glow from the inside, the visual palette, all smack of Disney. The film’s screenplay, which deals with the theme of loss and growth, too resembles Disney’s entertainment with a moral formula. The script has been written by the late Audrey Wells. The film is dedicated to the writer who sadly succumbed to cancer two years before its release. Given that context, the central theme of the film becomes even more poignant.The film utilises the Chinese myth of the Moon Goddess to weave a tale about loss, grief, and the power of love. Animation has been a great tool for filmmakers to explore the theme of children coping with grief, especially when the loss of a parent is involved. Children internalise things differently and if certain wounds in their psyche aren’t tended in time then they can fester for years. The Moon Goddess, despite being divine, is herself hasn’t overcome her grief of losing her human lover and a chance meeting with the film’s protagonist leads her towards resolution. The film begins with Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) being told the legend of the Moon Goddess Chang’e (Phillipa Soo) by her mother (Ruthie Ann Miles). Chang’e has been exiled to the moon for allegedly stealing two immortality pills. She wanted to make her human lover Houyi immortal as well but didn’t succeed. Fei Fei’s father (John Cho) runs a cake shop and her mother’s mooncakes are famous in their locality. During the annual Moon Festival, Fei Fei’s mother falls ill of cancer and dies. Four years later, he’s seen courting Mrs Zhong (Sandra Oh), a widow with a young son Chin (Robert G Chiu). While the rest of the family, who have gathered once more for the Moon Festival, have accepted Mrs Zhong, Fei Fei has not. She’s saddened by the fact that her father wants to move on. She sees it as a betrayal of her mother’s love and wants to land on the moon, meet the Moon Goddess and bring proof of the ‘eternal love’ as told in fables. She invents her own moon rocket and with timely help from helpful lion dragons, does manage to land up on the moon. She finds that the Moon Goddess is more of a diva than a benevolent spirit, who’s convinced that Fei Fei has brought her a gift which will provide her with a resurrection spell for her dead lover. She sets off a Cannonball Run like competition, where all the cuddly denizens of the moon participate, looking for the lost gift. Chin has also towed himself along for the adventure. He always wanted a sister and thinks finding the gift would help win Fei Fei over. How Fei Fei’s search leads both her and the Moon Goddess towards closure forms the crux of the story. The film becomes a visual extravaganza once Fei Fei lands on the lunar landscape. The world-building is truly amazing. And the Moon Goddess looks like a cross between Maleficent and Lady Gaga. Her various mood swings transform the landscape. Her tears are sentient beings and she’s protected by an army of glowing mooncakes. There are biker chicks who actually are chickens riding some really awesome bikes, a jade rabbit who is a wizard and a wise creature named Gobi, who resembles an otter. One can see that again, poetic liberty has been taken and ideas from across different banners and films have been appropriated. Director Glen Keane’s idea of China is that of an idyllic hamlet populated by kind souls who always help each other out. It’s a place where spiritual harmony remains an ideal for everyone. Nothing wrong in imagining a utopia but we wonder whose agenda is being served by painting such a placid picture. The film is part musical, part coming-of-age story and part pure fantasy. It falters in the execution of juggling all three parts. Disney, Pixar and Studio Ghibli have set high standards for others to follow. Over The Moon is a step in the right direction for its makers but they still have a lot of catching up to do…
Trailer : Over The Moon
Neil Soans, October 22, 2020, 2:50 PM IST
Story: A young girl flies to the moon to prove the existence of a goddess.
Review: Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) grows up believing the legendary myth of Chang’e (Phillipa Soo), a goddess who lives on the moon after losing her beloved. Fei Fei is trying to cope with her own loss, following the death of her mother. Years after the heartbreak, her father (John Cho) begins to date Mrs Zhong (Sandra Oh), which does not go down well with the young girl. Additionally, Mrs Zhong’s little boy Chin (Robert G. Chiu) gets on Fei Fei’s nerves. Agitated by the entire situation, she builds a rocket to fly to the moon, where she can meet Chang’e to show everyone back home that she is real. But more importantly, Fei Fei seeks to prove to her father that true love is meant to last forever.
‘Over the Moon’ is directed by Glen Keane, a veteran of animation for four decades. So, it is no surprise the film excels in that department. Combining the latest styles as well as a traditional design approach, the film is visually enchanting with a burst of colours and vivid imagery. Written by the late Audrey Wells, this story on loss and grief is constructed to ensure the heavy themes are still children-friendly. Characters like Fei Fei’s bunny Bungee and the Gobi the lunar pup, endearingly voiced by Ken Jeong, are introduced explicitly for that purpose – to be the cutesy and lovable, if derivative, comic relief. But while there’s no shortage of light-hearted and emotional moments, the plot is admittedly familiar. It’s padded with subplots, and while there are a couple of standout musical tracks, there is at least an equal number that serves little purpose other than exposition.
The animation and songs also work as ample distraction from the systematic workings of the plot, which, unfortunately, drags at various points. Interspersed between a chaotic set of world rules that aren’t clearly defined for audiences unaware of Chinese culture and mythology, the life lessons in ‘Over the Moon’ are certainly well-intended. That, along with dazzling visuals and endearing characters, will make it a captivating watch for younger audiences.