Over the Moon: Netflix Film Review

Over the Moon

There has been a distinct lack of animations so far this year, but they now seem to be coming out at the same time, with Wolfwalkers, Soul, and Over the Moon being released within weeks of each other. Will Over the Moon stand out from the crowd? Read on to find out. 

Over the Moon, featuring an all-Asian voice cast, tells the story of Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), a young girl who is still grieving for her mum, who died four years before the main events of the film. She refuses to believe her dad (John Cho) has moved on with Mrs Zhong (Sandra Oh) and that she now has a stepbrother, Chin (Robert G Chui). Fei Fei has always been obsessed with the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e (Phillipa Soo) and decides to build a rocket ship to the moon to meet her, with Chin secretly coming along for the ride. 

Although the inclusion of Chinese mythology gives Over the Moon a new angle, many aspects of it felt borrowed, or at least inspired, by other animations. For example, the main character has a dead parent, both lead children have funny animal companions – a frog and a rabbit (which is a great source of humour), there’s an unwanted sidekick (in Chin), a disco-pop musical number which reminded me of Zootroplis, and Fei Fei’s new moon friend Gobi (Ken Jeong) was very Olaf-like. It’s like Glen Keane and his team were trying to tick the boxes of what makes Disney/Pixar movies so successful. I understand why they’d want to stick with the tried and tested formula, but it just results in a film that feels rather derivative. 

Also, you can guess the message – or the lesson Fei Fei learns from her journey – just from reading the summary above, so it’s obvious and predictable, but it’s still a worthy message and its heart is in the right place. And on another critical note, I didn’t love how the moon inhabitants (not including Chang’e and another rabbit) were realised visually. They seemed to be colourful blobs without a proper outline. All the Earth-based scenes and people are animated like you’d expect and look great so the moon-based imagery looks cheaper and more garish by comparison. 

But, despite all these criticisms, I still really enjoyed it. Fei Fei is lovely, I think kids will really like her, there are some moments that made me properly laugh out loud (I even rewound one to watch it again), and some of the musical numbers are a lot of fun, particularly Chang’e’s introductory number, an electro-pop banger that wouldn’t seem out of place at Eurovision. Chang’e is given gorgeous costumes and she has a beautiful singing voice, which is no surprise considering Soo is from Hamilton. Although not all the songs made an impact, I loved that there was a mix of styles, so there’s the usual musical theatre ones, the generic pop numbers, and even a rap one. 

Over the Moon has quite a few flaws but at the end of the day, the only question that truly matters is – will children enjoy it? And the answer is a big fat yes. If your kids like Disney, they will like Over the Moon, because you probably can’t tell the difference. It is a much-needed slice of entertaining escapism.

In selected cinemas now and on Netflix from Friday 23rd October 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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