In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.
Over the Moon is the third feature film co-production from Netflix's animation division following Klaus and The Willoughbys. Klaus was probably in my top 10 list for that year, and while I didn't think The Willoughby's was in the same league, I still appreciate the craft and care that went into it making it look as good or better than some films that got a theatrical release. With Over the Moon co-produced with Pearl Studio (Abominable), I'm pleased to say this film is closer to the former than the latter.
The film is the feature length animated debut for John Kahrs (director of amazing short Paperman) and Glen Keane (Dear Basketball) and both have work in the industry coming from Pixar as well as back to the early days of the Disney Renaissance. Needless to say, their A game has been brought and delivers. The animation in this movie is simply incredible. The vibrancy and life of Fei Fei's home town, the energy brought to the comic relief characters (of which there maybe a few too many), the emptiness of space, and some scenes of sheer awe and wonder that deserve to be experienced so I'll avoid spoiling them, save for saying they're as imaginative as anything Winsor McCay created for his Little Nemo comic strips back in the early 1900s.
The story is absolutely amazing showing the importance of family, but also the threat of getting stuck in the past and refusing to move past it (with some eerily effective imagery in the film's climax. The movie is a musical with Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield and Helen Park serving as the song writers, and the score they come up with is as vibrant and powerful as the upper levels of the Disney Renaissance. The songs range from more traditional melodies to more modern compositions to sometimes skirting the lines and being compositions of both, in this way it's very much enhancing the theme of appreciating the old while allowing acceptance of the new.
Fei Fei makes a likable lead as we see her emotional jounrey and it parallels nicely with the Chang'e legend as presented in the film. Fei Fei is brought to life by not only great expressive animation but also by Cathy Ang giving a great VO performance that hits all the right notes. The rest of the voice cast do a terrific job and play their parts well. Some of the comic relief do flirt with becoming grating and overbearing, but luckily what annoyance there are to the characters feel (mostly) true to life and feel earned in relation to the rest of the movie that surrounds them. There are also a few lowbrow gags, but they're luckily used sparingly and never overstay their welcome.
Over the Moon is a terrific film that shows that both Pearl Studio and Netflix Animation are worthy contenders among the crowded animation field. With fantastic visuals, likable characters, a dynamic musical score, and a story that strikes the right emotional chords, the movie is able to overcome the few minor drawbacks keep it from being perfect. While some of the comic relief feels unnecessary, it's balanced out by a cohesive whole of ingredients that make for a beautiful and moving animated visual feast.
- Oct 24, 2020