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Over the Moon

Take The Wizard of Oz, add a touch of Up, a splash of Frozen and toss well with the cultural specificity of a Coco and you’ll get a reasonable facsimile of Over the Moon, a CG-animated musical fantasy that still manages to infuse sufficient charm and genuine warmth into the inescapable familiarity.

Finding folkloric lift-off in the Chinese legend of Chang’e, the Goddess of the Moon, the contemporary update is buoyed by director Glen Keane’s richly detailed visuals and an energetic voice cast headed by Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo and Ken Jeong — even if the film lands somewhat shy of its destination.

Knowing that the script was penned by the late Audrey Wells, who had been receiving cancer treatment at the time, adds another layer of poignancy to the tender prologue, which finds Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) grappling with the death of her young mother (Ruthie Ann Miles).

Four years later, still taking comfort in her mom’s tales about goddess Chang’e and her mortal husband, archer Houyi, 12-year-old Fei Fei returns from school one day to be informed by her bakery proprietor dad (John Cho) that she’ll soon have a new mom (Sandra Oh) and a rambunctious kid brother (Robert G. Chiu). Not taking the news well, Fei Fei reacts by using her science smarts to build a rocket that will take her to the moon. Her intention is to bring photographic proof of the existence of Chang’e back to her aunties and uncles.

Turns out that Soo’s less-than-benevolent Moon Goddess proves to be a bit of a space diva who’s fond of belting out Katy Perry-esque empowerment tunes like “Ultraluminary” against a luminescent, Candyland-on-acid backdrop.

As it so happens, the lack of gravitational pull up on Lunaria takes its toll on the production as a whole: The film proves more compelling and emotionally resonant back on earth, where it's boosted by the same sort of acute attention to family celebration and food preparation that lent Pixar’s Coco an irresistible, around-the-table potency.

That domestic milieu plays to the strengths of veteran Disney animator Keane (the son of Family Circus cartoonist Bil) who makes his feature directorial debut here after winning an animated short Oscar for his Kobe Bryant collaboration, Dear Basketball. Self-possessed Fei Fei is right at home with such other Keane creations as The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and Rapunzel, while the animation is bright and spirited.

Likewise, the voice cast — which also includes comedians Ken Jeong as Fei Fei’s blobby Lunarian cohort, Gobi, and Margaret Cho in dual earth/moon roles — expertly delivers the character-driven goods.

Source:Michael Rechtshafen, The Hollywood Reporter

 

 

Virtual cinema: 
Showtimes: 

Playing at Hyland Cinema:

@
12:15pm
Directed by: 
Glen Keane
Directed by: 
John Kahrs
Running Time: 
95 minutes
Country(ies): 
China
Country(ies): 
USA
Year: 
2020
Language: 
English
Starring: 
Sandra Oh
Phillipa Soo
John Cho
Ken Jeong
Margaret Cho
Screenplay by: 
Jennifer Yee McDevitt
Audrey Wells
Rated: 
PG

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