Sunday, December 27, 2020

Over the Moon - Movie Review

The Movie: Over the Moon

The Director: Glen Keane and John Kahrs

The Cast: Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Margaret Cho, Sandra Oh

The Story: In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.

The Review:
Glen Keane has been associated with Disney animation for decades including his work on some the all time classic features like Beauty and the Beast and even all the way back to Pete's Dragon although this is the first time he has directed (technically co-directed a feature of his own. It's great to see someone with such a rich history in the world of animation on board to bring this crucial and groundbreaking story and movie to life.

When I first learned of this movie's existence, I was excited to see that the story focuses on a teenage girl from China exploring the food and culture and folklore of her homeland. I mean, her family runs a little shop where they make Mooncakes! How could I not want to see that. Seriously though, I feel like this is an important movie for a lot of different reasons, first and foremost being representation for Chinese girls as well as girls in general and for Asian people around the world. Yes, we have Mulan and Moana and many others but I feel like this story is unique as it's placed in a more contemporary setting and Fei Fei, the main character who is voice by Cathy Ang, seems like a more modern role model.

So, as I'm typing this, I just learned about the movie's end credits dedication to writer Audrey Wells from my friend Gavin. Ms. Wells wrote the story for her husband and daughter before passing away due to cancer which is a very emotional revelation when thinking about how Fei Fei's journey in the movie begins after losing her own mother to cancer. Knowing this adds such an undercurrent of emotion to the story, I am now very interested in watching it again. On a side note, she also wrote the screenplay for The Hate U Give which was released in theaters the day after she passed.

Along with an emotional and inspirational story, I loved the beautifully rendered animation which is computer animated yet it also feels and looks very much like classic hand drawn animation. There is also a lot of cultural influence as well including both donghua and anime styles so it's a very well rounded visual treat. The colors are so beautiful and everything just pops, especially after Fei Fei finds herself in a mystical city on the moon during her quest to find the legendary Chang'e. Honestly, everything about this movie is just so fun and enjoyable and is filled with inspiration. Definitely a movie the whole family can enjoy together and as often as you like since it should always be available on Netflix.

The Verdict:
Over the Moon is a movie everyone should watch and a story anyone can enjoy. As a story about family and love and loss, it is filled with inspiration and contains lessons we can all learn from. I generally rate movies on my emotional connection and how they make me feel after watching so them, with that in mind, I will definitely be including this one somewhere in my year end favorites.

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