‘Over the Moon’ Review: After Loss, a Lunar Adventure

In the bland animated adventure “Over the Moon,” a girl’s longing for her late mother inspires her journey to the moon. Dreading her father’s remarriage, the plucky tween Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) latches on to the myth of Chang’e, a lunar goddess who pines after her mortal soul mate. If Fei Fei can prove Chang’e — and her everlasting love — exist, then perhaps her father will abandon his plan.

The movie, streaming on Netflix and directed by Glen Keane, opens in a scenic Chinese city where Fei Fei’s family runs a mooncake shop. By day, Fei Fei teeters on a bike delivering sweets. But in the evening, she works furiously at her desk, sipping bubble tea while modeling the rocket she hopes will carry her to Chang’e. Throughout, the frame is awash with exquisite detail: gondolas floating on canals, the glow of paper lanterns, the tactile quality of the dough Fei Fei rolls into mooncakes.

But once the young adventurer parks on the moon, a lurid landscape called Lunaria, the animation weakens considerably. Rather than action taking place on meticulously rendered topography, it is set against brightly colored backdrops speckled with magnified pixels, and the planet’s gummy creatures — including Fei Fei’s soon-to-be pal Gobi (Ken Jeong) — look as if neon pieces from the game Candy Crush had come to life.

Similar to “Coco,” the Pixar story this film most resembles, “Over the Moon” uses buoyant folklore to explore a child’s grappling with death. But this movie’s gaudy and generic attempts at interstellar whimsy can only dream of reaching the visual fantasy heights of “Coco.”

“Over the Moon” deserves credit for launching an unflinching lesson about grief. If only it had taken a different flight path.

Over the Moon
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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