Over the Moon (2020) Review – An Imperative Variegation

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Over the Moon is a Netflix Original, directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs. Audrey Wells, the American screenwriter, conceived the script, before she passed away in 2018. This film is dedicated to her memory. The screenplay has been co-written by Jennifer Yee Macdevitt. The film makes use of the voice of celebrated artists like Philipa Soo and Ken Jeong to bring the animated characters to life.

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The film is an animated musical that not only is visually striking but tacked with some well-written scenes. Though the film is set in fantasy land it makes use of strong emotions that embrace you in an effusive manner. The emotional vulnerability of the protagonist would be relatable to each and everyone who has had a rendezvous with grief.


The Premise

Fei Fei’s life is just about perfect. She is loved by her father, whom she calls Ba Ba, and pampered by her mother. She rests with her head on her mother’s lap and her mother tells her stories. Stories about fairies and princesses such that she has created a whole imaginary land in her mind.  But Fei Fei has a proclivity towards one story which she asks her mother to repeat every day. The story of the princess named Chang’e who is stuck on the moon waiting for her lover named Houyi, to return. She is fascinated by that story and believes in it. She is told that Chang’e was one of the noblest beings to have walked the earth. But she committed one grave mistake that took her happiness away from her. She took two pills of immortality. Her lover was left on Earth to live a mortal life and she was sent to the moon.

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Time passed and Fei Fei’s mother met her fate leaving her alone. She is still coping up with the loss and her life is going through a momentous change when her father decides to remarry a woman named Mrs Zhong. She becomes reprehensible in her approach as she sees it as a stranger invading the position that was once held by her mother. She dislikes Mrs Zhong and her son, Chin you annoy her and never leaves her side. Mrs Zhong is a sensible lady. She knows it can be hard on the kids to accept the change. She gives Fei Fei the space she needs.

On the occasion of the moon festival, the adults gather to have dinner together. They talk about how Fei Fei still believes that Chang’e is a real person and not just a figment of the imagination. Fei Fei becomes angry and the conversation turns into a heated argument. She is disappointed not at the fact that the family considers Chang’e imaginary but that her father didn’t say anything, proving that he too believes that the story is just a fable. Fei Fei feels that if she is able to get some evidence that Chang’e is real, her father might not move on and marry someone else. Fei Fei gathers her comrades, which in this case is her pet rabbit Bungee, and prepares to leave for space in a spacecraft that she herself has created.


Stunning Visuals and A Relatable Foundation

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Adults who are able to imbibe a pragmatic approach are the ones who don’t get stuck in a place for long. They are able to move on in their life. But then there are some who are not able to accept the change. They are often seen dwelling in the past. They cling onto fond memories and create a shell around them, not letting anybody enter. But we often forget in these times of grief that we get to live only once. We can’t waste it on mourning something that is not in our hands. Yes, we should respect the memories but at the same time try to be satisfied in the position we currently are.

Fei Fei feels alone and lost in this big world. But she is a dauntless female and has an undismayed approach towards life. She realizes with the time that the only principle that this life operates upon is the “inevitability of Change“. One has to flow with it, one has to accept it.

Over the Moon celebrates Asian culture. It brings Asian characters on the front when the big players like Disney have been reluctant to do so in the past. One of the things that could have been avoided was the digressions that happened just to include certain cultural viewpoints. It made the story shaggy and a bit stretched at times. The western audience might not be able to relate to certain sensibilities of the folklore but then a departure from the set pattern of the animated films was necessary. I believe that cultural diversification will hugely benefit this genre of cinema and being released on Netflix gives it a global audience which earlier was not possible. It was only a handful of production houses that we’re able to exercise a multinational reach.

The film is not groundbreaking but puts forth an earnest effort. It’s a voyage that prods your emotional vulnerabilities and talks about the essence of loneliness and in the end, leaves you with a hope that maybe it’s just a phase and one day it too shall pass.


Over the Moon is streaming on Netflix.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai in 2018 to bring characters to life and escape reality. Likes to dwell in the world created by cinema and ponder over philosophical thoughts. Believes in the kind of cinema that neither makes you laugh nor makes you cry, but moves something inside you.

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