By Gianna Marrano
“Over the Moon,” is a new Sony animation film released on Netflix on Oct. 16. The film is directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs, and provides a very colorful adventure into Chinese culture. The film follows Fei Fei (voiced by Cathy Ang) and her imagination as she works to prove the existence of the moon goddess Chang’e (voiced by Phillipa Soo). She builds a rocket to the moon and discovers Lunaria, a magical bright world filled with talking sweets, and helps Chang’e acquire ‘the gift’ so that she can get her lost lover back.
The film prominently features elements of Chinese culture like mooncakes and the Moon Festival (also known as Mid-Autumn day) and explores themes of family and recovery from loss. The movie also includes a woman in STEM as the main character which is a nice nod because there isn’t much representation in animated films.
The movie grabs the audience fairly quickly with the stunning animation style and variety in artwork and design. I hadn’t been this stunned by the presentation of an animated movie since “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.” The beginning of the movie does a good job of flinging viewers headfirst into the abundance of culture and history beneath these characters and their activities.
A tradition, Fei Fei’s family owns the neighborhood moon pie shop and the film does a good job unapologetically being representative of an underrepresented culture in animation. Don’t even get me started on Luminaria, the kingdom on the moon. All the colors work so well together and immerse the audience in a land of make-believe and children’s fairytale.
Where the movie lacks is where every children’s movie seems to lack. Eventually, the novelty of brilliant animation wears off and the audience is left with a typical, predictable plot. The quest for the gift is timed to create tension, a comedic relief Pangolin named Gobi (Ken Jeong) is introduced to pick up the slack of the second act, but can sometimes come off a tad bit annoying and over the top.
The plot then picks up again in the third act where the film decently pulled off some parallelism, which I am a sucker for. The film, however, ends up being like a partially baked cake, an amazing, perfectly baked crust with a half-baked middle. All in all, the plot is wholesome and very lovely to watch unfold.
The film is ultimately a musical — “Gravity” and “Baby Driver’s” Stephen Price wrote the score and Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, and Helen Park wrote original songs. Helen Park is a Korean composer and works wonders on the music to fully immerse viewers in the culture. This soundtrack isn’t as catchy as your average Disney film but I’d blast some songs in my car. Price, as always, provides an amazing score to couple with the soundtrack and all in all, creates an amazing soundscape for the film.
I would definitely recommend this movie for your next wholesome watch on Netflix. In my eyes, it will probably get an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.