Netflix reaches new heights with Over the Moon

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Photo Courtesy of IMDb.com

Daniel Longenecker, Staff Writer

In collaboration with China’s Pearl Studio and Sony Pictures, Netflix’s shiny new animated musical presents a vibrant and bittersweet story. “Over The Moon” is packed with valuable lessons for young viewers. Directed by two legendary animators, Glen Keane and John Kahr, that bear a large imprint on the industry with their films. They are best known for “The Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Paperman.” The visual quality of “Over the Moon” is matched with some of the best in the game.

There’s no doubt that an incredible amount of effort and talent went into creating this project. The animations are well-rendered and visually stunning with their colorful scenery. Lively sidekicks are always there to accompany the main characters too. Moreover, it includes a handful of scenes with impressive music. Steven Price, an Academy Award-Winning composer, created much of the music in the movie. Additionally, talent can be seen in the movie’s choreography. The choreographer, Kyle Hanagami, has worked with the South Korean girl group known as “Blackpink.” Fans may feel familiar with some of the choices made in this area. 

“Over the Moon” follows the story of a 12 year old girl named Fei Fei (Cathy Ang). In the beginning of the movie, it’s quickly revealed that unfortunate events have befallen Fei Fei and her family. Four years later, she finds herself attempting to honor her mother’s memory. Fueled by a passion for science and discovery, she builds a rocket to find proof of a mythical moon goddess’ existence. As the movie continues, the second half switches to a very different experience as Fei Fei embarks on a quest through the whimsical city of Lunaria.

“Over The Moon” nails her story by staying on path in a straightforward manner. The movie maintains a strong emotional arc, rather than expanding into convoluted subplots. Additionally, it illuminates themes surrounding trauma and family dynamics in a truly impactful way. It’s serious messaging provides content for a wide age range, showing that netflix isn’t afraid to deal with difficult subjects in their animated movies.

This time, Netflix decided to take a dive into Chinese culture. “Over The Moon” features stories and traditions surrounding the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Representation was also reflected in its voice cast, which includes a lengthy list of Asian-American actors. Unfortunately, some viewers were displeased by the attempt as creating authenticity, as it could be seen as a disingenuous oversimplification of Chinese culture. Specifically, the movie condenses tales surrounding Chang’e, the Chinese goddess of the moon, and the origins of this Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. 

Furthermore, the fast pace and neon colors definitely won’t be for everyone. It may seem chaotic and incohesive as it jumps from plot point to plot point. Meanwhile, the residents of Lunaria look oddly underdesinged, with simple bodies. The silly characters tied with the movie’s pop music may seem cringe-inducing for older audiences. 

Overall, “Over The Moon” isn’t the worst movie in Netflix’s portfolio. It’ll undoubtedly provide many with a heart-warming and fun experience. However, the movie has performed poorly at the worldwide box-office. It received a minuscule $582,000 in its first three days in China, where the box office has rebounded. The North American box office, on the other hand, still experiences immense pressure under the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how the American movie industry will precede into 2021.