Concessions Confession: Over the Moon shoots for the moon but ends up a pale Disney imitation. Yet, it’s sincerity and wholesomeness prove that it earns a place among the stars.
Logline: Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon to prove the existence of the Moon Goddess Chang’e. Fei Fei must present a gift if she wants a photo of Chang’e to bring back home.
The Mouse in the Room
You want to know why Disney is the best in children’s animation? Sure, there’s the cynical answer, of being a massive corporation that can out budget and market the competition. However, I honestly believe that credit where credit is due, Disney is the master of the second act. It’s easy to think of a nice concept, it’s not hard to think of a clever or satisfying ending. It’s not always easy to make that hour in the middle something that keeps your attention.
Over the Moon is not a bad movie by any means, but for all it has got going for it, it’s lacking in certain “connective tissue” to make the film be something truly special. Aspects such as character motivations and relationships, cinematography, framing the conflicts are all just lacking in an attention to detail.
It feels awkward to have a theme of two characters bonding, and not have them share screen time or gain a mutual understanding of one another through events that transpire. Some plot devices or Chekhov’s gun moments are a little too blatant. I mean went you give the kid an obsession with running through walls, it’s a little bit too extreme of a character quirk to not think it would come back in some way. Overall, there’s a lack of interesting external conflict or obstacles to overcome, which is a shame because the internal stuff is nearly palpable. You just often get that touch for a brief moment because the film rarely holds onto moments for long.
That’s why Netflix has this in some weird territory because should we treat it as a theatrical release? I know it is released in China and isn’t doing too hot, but to be upfront if this were put on Nickelodeon randomly as a TV movie, I would think this is the best thing ever. The only reason I even compare this to Disney is because you kind of have to. Every Disney-ism is here, from the marketable animal sidekicks, to it being a musical, and Disney’s most common troupe (I won’t say it because spoilers, but we all know the one). The film is even directed by Glen Keane, who spend nearly 4 decades at Disney Animation Studios. It can’t escape the similarities and it doesn’t make me love or hate this film any more or less, but it just a good benchmark for why Disney is great at what they do.
Art of the Craft
The one thing I don’t doubt about this film is the earnest effort behind it. I don’t think Over the Moon was made to be a soulless product. It definitely comes across that they wanted to make a story that would resonate with people. I highly recommend looking into the behind the scenes material that goes over the work the went into the wardrobe, chorography, and other design choices.
I think most of my gripes comes with the execution of certain elements, as the overall themes, concepts, and ideas are remarkable. That’s why a lot of the credit goes to Audrey Wells, who is given an in-memoriam credit. Wells was inspired by her own battle with cancer and wanted to create something for her daughter to inspire her to move on and embrace change. How can you not find it at least a tad endearing after hearing that?
I have my fair share of critiques and constructive criticisms with the execution of the film, but I do find myself in the film’s corner. It’s a beautiful peer into another culture, that highlights a phenomenal cast of actors. It demonstrates an astounding dedication to it’s craft and storytelling in many ways. All its creative decisions might not come together in a cohesive enough manner to call it a masterpiece but the level of delicate detail it does have is something that you have to applaud. For a film that emphasizes appreciating what you have and not taking anything for granted I certainly cherish what we got and do recommend you go and give it a chance. You might just find it Spectacularia.
Thank you so much for checking out this review, I have 2 little announcements if you don’t mind sticking around for an extra second. First, this is the beginning of what I plan on November and since Thanksgiving (in America…suck it Canadians) is this month I thought it would be cool to show how thankful I am towards my followers. So this month I want to dedicate all my posts towards fulfilling recommendations that people have asked me to check out.
To the Moon was recommended to me by Nabe-Chan over at https://geeknabe.com/. Nabe is kind of like my school bully…. But like in an endearing way. Let’s just say they’re profile picture is actually pretty accurate. Because Nabe is cute and innocent that you do just want to give them a hug, but you probably would get burned if you started hugging a hotpot. Jokes aside, Nabe is one of the nicest and coolest people I chat with online so consider going to check them out. Maybe go watch this movie and tell them that you liked it. Maybe be nicer than me, I kind of like this movie but I’m a tad brutally honest about it.
Are You Over the Moon Yet?
Other announcement I have is, hope you liked this post or are interested in To the Moon, because I’m doing a part 2 tomorrow. I didn’t know if I wanted to do a standard review, or a more analytic look at how the music is and how it compares to some more mainstream animation movies. So I did both, as you probably need a little bit of understanding of were I’m coming from and maybe need to see the movie. I think I found a lot of interesting comparisons, and in general highlight some really cool songs from this movie and others. So please come back tomorrow and we can have a little jam session.
Alright, bye-bye for now. I’ll catch you next time here at the movies!
Images are from Over the Moon [credit: Netflix]