This review is specifically dedicated to Audrey Wells. For the record, I have no personal connection with Audrey Wells, but she wrote the screenplay for this film, only to pass away in late 2018, two years before this film officially released to the public. This may end up being one of the few times I do a dedication to somebody during a review, but this is incredibly deserved. You’ll see why. On with the review!
“Over the Moon” is directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs and stars Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo (Hamilton, The Broken Hearts Gallery), Ken Jeong (The Masked Singer, The Hangover), John Cho (Star Trek, Total Recall), Ruthie Ann Miles (All Rise, The Americans), Margaret Cho (All-American Girl, 30 Rock), and Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve). This film centers around a young girl named Fei Fei, who is forced to adapt to the alterations of her life following the death of her mother. The young girl aspires to go to the moon to find the ancient goddess, Chang’e.
Now if you know me in person, you know I love the theatrical experience, and part of the reason why I refuse to buy a subscription to certain streaming services like Netflix is because they do not really have a presence in the theatrical light. I feel that it is an art that must be preserved for years to come, and streaming is something that is getting in the way of that. It’s not that I do not stream at all, in fact I’ve been using the hell out of Peacock recently, but I have my preferences. And when you basically annihilate Blockbuster, that’s another gripe to add to the equation.
Thankfully, “Over the Moon” has been slated to come out theatrically in select locations, so I took the opportunity to support it. The trailer looked… okay… It kind of looked like a typical 3D animated feature that took place in space. Maybe it’ll be more fun for kids than anyone else. But of course, I love space movies, and I will admit, I somewhat obligate myself to seeing at least 5 animated movies a year now. I figured “Over the Moon” would join the list.
You want to know something? This might shock some of you, after watching this movie, I almost considered buying a Netflix subscription. It’s… THAT GOOD! I did not expect this movie to pack as satisfyingly brutal of a punch as it has. Remember a few days ago when I said “Yellow Rose” may be the best movie of the year? Yeah, I think we have a new sheriff in town! “Over the Moon” is one of the best animated films I have seen in a theater. It’s powerful from start to finish. Not just in terms of being a feast for the eyes, but going full Pixar and letting you experience a story that represents the best of the human condition! I’m not gonna lie, towards the end of this movie, man tears. I will admit it.
Speaking of Pixar and movies that make you cry, remember “Coco?” Remember the movie that came out a few Novembers ago? I’ll be honest, even though I know quite a few people who lost their grandparents and saw this movie, I consider myself lucky. At the time I watched this movie, and this stands true today, because I watched it again a week ago when it was on ABC, all my grandparents on both sides were still alive. But I feel like when it comes to “Over the Moon,” it sort of spoke to me. I felt like I was in Fei Fei’s shoes, even though I am a twenty-year-old pasty white dude who does not engage in traditions like the Moon Festival.
Now I do not mean that literally, because one of the major plot points in this film is that we see Fei Fei with her family, and they’re clearly happy together. This is not a spoiler, but the mother dies. So much of the movie takes place in times where the effects of the death take place. We see Fei Fei’s struggle to accept the reality, her father meets someone new and she has to deal with their child who according to her, is quite annoying. When the father lets Fei Fei know that he plans to marry this new woman in his life, Fei Fei does not know what to think of it. …I’ve been through this.
You may be wondering, how is this possible? Hey, Jackass! You just said your mother is still alive! What about your father?
He’s still alive! Both parents, thankfully, are still living today, and I am glad to have both in my life. But I went down a similar path in life, and like Fei Fei, the decision to go down this path was not one of my own, it was beyond my control. During the 2010s, my parents separated. At this time, my mother started seeing new people. At first it didn’t seem like anything, but as more people came in, I became incredibly uneasy. Because, not to sound like a manipulative moron, but I really wanted my dad back. My mother remains single to this day. And you know what? I have learned to live my reality, but it does not mean I don’t want him back anymore. If anything, I want him back in a heartbeat. I still see him often, but as someone who still lives with a parent, I would love it if he were still around because I spent years growing without a father figure.
This probably comes down to a basic, repetitive thought process I have. I hate change. There are exceptions, for example, I don’t always want to eat at the same restaurant every week, but I am one of those people who does not see the need to have something shift every so often, or have a bunch of things shift at once. This is part of why 2020 has literally been the Michael Bay dumpster fire explosion that it is for me. And this is also something that the movie dives into, and it explores that idea beautifully. This is why I love Fei Fei as a character, and admittedly, this is why I liked the antagonist. Honestly, some of my favorite movies like “Point Break,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ready or Not,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” stand where they happen to be because I am not only rooting for the hero, but the antagonistic side is fleshed out, and presents themselves as likable. I do not always have to agree with them, but I at least understand them. The antagonist here works because they are written with the intention to make you feel bad for them. They present an issue that feels down to earth and They are not perfect, they’re just like us.
…I… Have I made it clear as to how much I adore this masterpiece? This was supposed to be a time waster at best! I LOVE THIS MOVIE.
I have read some other reviews for this movie, and according to Metacritic, this film is getting mixed or average reviews so far. I’ll be honest, this film is beyond average. For all I know, maybe I am overhyping the film a little, but you also have to consider, I have been through remarkably familiar situations that this movie presents in regard to the main character’s journey. And I will say that is probably why this got tears out of me, similar to how “Coco” managed to get tears out of others.
“Over the Moon” is a Netflix original, but it feels very much like a Disney classic. In fact, this film is helmed by two people who do not have many directing credits, but they are veterans in the animation genre, tackling revered films like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Incredibles,” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” Now I cannot claim I have watched many of Disney’s older animated films, but having watched “Over the Moon,” this is what it felt like all the way. A brilliant score, beautiful images, hyperactive and likable characters, touching moments, and EPIC numbers. There is one that I have been playing on a loop not only during this review, but as I wrote my review for Liam Neeson’s “Honest Thief.” Remember how “Frozen” became that movie where you have songs from it play on loop? “Let It Go?” More like “Let It Stop!” Honestly, those songs are annoying as hell. I could barely even get past that first movie. “Over the Moon” trounces “Frozen” in every way. And I do sort of apologize to John Kahrs, one of the directors for this film, as he was an animator for “Frozen,” but I am just being honest.
I mentioned that score, and I’ll say that Steven Price composed said score. Price already has an Oscar under his belt for his score that he did for “Gravity.” This score is just as epic. Time will tell as to whether I’ll end up listening to the musical score for this film repeatedly, but it was boisterous in the theater. It really fit the adventure feel this film was going for.
The vibe for this movie is perfect. It fits the wondrous animation style, where everything looks like it’s a wacky world in “Tron” if it were on acid. I have a feeling that part of the space world in this film, where much of it takes place, looks like what a child would imagine Disney World looks like in a crazy dream before they set foot there. Little sidenote, if you’re of age and want to drop acid during this movie, I won’t stop you. This looks like a TRIP. “Over the Moon” is fast paced to the point where many kids will watch it and enjoy it, and I think some adults will get a kick out of it too. There are a couple kiddy jokes here and there, but they did work every once in a while and felt more charming than annoying for the most part. And again, this movie does what Pixar has often set out to do. Take an adult issue, put it in a kids movie, and make you cry about it. I cried more during this movie than I did during “Up,” and I think a little more than I did during “Inside Out,” and THAT says something. “Over the Moon’s” third act is probably my favorite this year, maybe aside from “Tenet,” as it is probably the most satisfying. It is the one that made me let out the most emotion. I walked out of the auditorium once the movie ended and started asking myself what it was I just saw. I could barely even concentrate driving home because I was in such disbelief. Usually when I use that word, disbelief, it is about something atrocious. This time the opposite is true. I cannot believe how exceptional “Over the Moon” is, and I feel like I am one of the few people who even knows what this movie is. I do not know how well it will do once it stays on Netflix for awhile, but I really hope for those families who have the service, it becomes part of their family movie night, because this movie took this twenty-year-old, and made him feel like he was five. If the spectacular images and music did not do that already, the emotional writing certainly did.
With that said, I know Netflix is more about the home viewing business, but I really hope Netflix considers leaving this film in whatever theaters it can for a while, because it is such a spectacle on the big screen that is better than almost any other movie I watched this year. Again, “Tenet” is the only other the competes with it in terms of visuals. I have a feeling this will inspire young children not only to reach for the stars, but maybe some will want to become animators. This feels carefully crafted, and I’m gonna use that analogy again. This reminds me of a better Pixar film. Honestly, this film is better than most of the content that we’ve gotten from Pixar in the past 4 or 5 years.
I do not know if this film will be remembered in the same way that many other animated films are, but I will not forget it. That is for sure.
In the end, “Over the Moon” accomplished every goal it set out to do. Create likable characters, fulfill each character’s arch, write and unleash epic songs and music, show off marvelous animation, and create something that both kids and adults will adore. This movie made me feel like a kid again. Sometimes like a baby. The cast from Cathy Ang to Phillipa Soo to Ken Jeong are all incredible. This is a movie that I thought would be watchable, but SO GOOD that I would consider subscribing to Netflix? That’s another level! “Roma” and “Marriage Story” were great movies. Masterpieces in fact! But I do not remember saying that I would want to subscribe to Netflix to watch them again afterwards. I am already paying for a few services, but I might actually subscribe to Netflix JUST to watch this again. “Stranger Things?” “House of Cards?” “The Witcher?” Who cares? I just want to cue that “Over the Moon” movie again! I do not know if I will let out man tears during another movie this year like I did for this one.
Throughout the year 2020, I watched movies like “The Vast of Night,” “Tenet,” “The Last Shift,” and “Yellow Rose,” all of them are great. But as I reviewed each one, I can’t say that they’ve earned what I’m going to give “Over the Moon.” For the first time in 2020, I’m going to give “Over the Moon” a 10/10!
FINALLY. That’s all I can say. FINALLY. I cannot even believe that it took me 10 months to find a movie that I would consider to be within my top grade. Let me just say, 10/10 does not always mean perfect, because no movie is perfect. But when your movie is this imaginative, marvelously put together, and as big of a surprise as it is, it prompts you to grade it with a 10. This started off feeling like a generic kids movie, with a little something else added to it, by the end it is one of the greatest stories I’ve had the pleasure to experience myself.
Once again, this review is dedicated to Audrey Wells, who previously had credits for films including “The Game Plan,” “The Hate U Give,” and “A Dog’s Purpose.” I will say that I have not seen all those films. But “Over the Moon” honestly moved me to a point where I was shook. I was glued to my chair. It made me want to dream bigger, aim higher, and as someone who had to face new people come into a parent’s love life, I related to this movie 100%. Audrey Wells, if you read this from above, other people finished your masterpiece, and I also want to throw in some praise for Jennifer Yee McDevitt for her work on the screenplay as well, but you deserve all the credit from the moon and back. To everyone who reads this. Dream. Dream young, dream old, dream on your deathbed, and dream even in the afterlife. Wells, your movie is here, and people are going to love it. Mark my words.
Rest in peace.
Thanks for reading this review! FINALLY a 10/10 movie in 2020! I never thought I would see that! I never thought we’d get movies period! But here we are! All I can say is that if everyone’s giving Pixar’s “Soul” high praise right now, I can only imagine how that movie would turn out in comparison to “Over the Moon” because this is by far my favorite movie of 2020. There have been a bunch of movies that I have debated would fit the top spot by the end of the year. That debate is over, “Over the Moon” trounces the other candidates. As far as my next review goes, that is likely still being decided, but I will make sure I can see something and write about it as quick as possible. Maybe I’ll watch “The Witches” on HBO Max, who knows? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Be sure to check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Over the Moon?” What did you think about it? Also, what is your favorite movie of 2020 so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!