Over The Moon

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Over The Moon
"Over The Moon is full of bright colours and boldly drawn characters which will appeal to even the smallest children."

Fei Fei (voiced in English by Cathy Ang) has an idyllic childhood. Her family runs a hot food stall where she enjoys helping out, she rides her bike around the friendly neighbourhood and she plays with her pet rabbit. She's particularly close to her mother, who tells her stories about the moon - but her mother is seriously ill, and after she dies, nothing seems the same. The neighbours are still friendly, the rabbit is still cute, the moon still shines in the night sky, but Fei Fei is lonely. Then her father takes up with another woman who has an annoying son and uses a different recipe to make moon cakes, and it's as if the love he professed for her mother has been forgotten. So Fei Fei does what any enterprising child would do in that situation, and builds a rocket to the moon.

Why the moon? It's because she has been told that there's a goddess there who can help her - a goddess whose story has inspired her because it, too, concerns lost love and an unwillingness to let go. What doesn't occur to her is that the said goddess has lots of people vying for her attention and an agenda of her own. Soon Fei Fei is off on a quest to obtain a gift for the goddess, aided by a space dog and navigating a glowing lunar landscape where none of the rules she's used to apply. As a child with a bit of a fixation on doing things properly, she's forced to loosen up and accept that sometimes one just has to go with the flow - a lesson that the goddess, too, will ultimately need to reckon with.

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Over The Moon is full of bright colours and boldly drawn characters which will appeal to even the smallest children. It rattles along at a speed also best suited to this audience, but runs too long for them, with not many suitable points for breaking it up into easily digested chapters. Some adult viewers will find it exhausting. It's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but the lows are well handled and don't last too long, and we see Fei Fei express her grief in a variety of ways, which is helpful for children who are going through similar things themselves and need to reckon with the fact that they don't just feel sad. Ultimately, our young heroine has to recognise that she's still responsible if she hurts others, regardless of the fact that she's hurting herself - and that she won't feel better unless she allows herself to do so.

There's a lot going on here, and the large number of characters with different concerns leaves the film struggling to do justice to them all. Some scenes are also visually overwhelming without contributing much in terms of meaningful detail. Fei Fei's story is strong, however, and has a lot of warmth and emotional resonance. The musical numbers present throughout the film may not be terribly memorable but they hit the right emotional notes, and, of course, the ending will leave young viewers feeling that order has been restored.

A US-Chinese collaboration clearly made with a focus on mass market appeal, this is nevertheless a sweet little film with a lot of heart.

Reviewed on: 07 Jan 2021
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Over The Moon packshot
In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.

Director: Glen Keane, John Kahrs

Writer: Audrey Wells, Jennifer Yee McDevitt

Starring: Cathy Ang, John Cho, Robert G Chiu, Phillipa Soo, Glen Keane

Year: 2020

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: China, US

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