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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the fantasy violence in Over the Moon is only mildly scary, and the sadder scenarios -- a dying mother, a "Chamber of Exquisite Sadness" for the grief stricken -- ultimately lead to positive lessons and personal growth. Main character Fei Fei (voiced by Cathy Ang) comes from a loving extended family that often bonds over food in their beautiful Chinese village. She also excels at science and puts her gifts to use to build a rocket. It launches Fei Fei and her soon-to-be brother, plus pets, into a fantasy world on the moon. There they encounter some threatening creatures and embark on adventures that put their lives in danger but also bring them closer together and help Fei Fei work through her grief. The kids display courage and determination, and they learn the expansiveness of love. Four years after his wife's death, a man admits he sometimes feels lonely and makes plans to remarry. Expect some innocent expressions of affection; iffy language is limited to childish taunts, plus "butt" and "poo."
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What's the story?
Fei Fei (voiced by Cathy Ang) and her mom (Ruthie Ann Miles) and dad (John Cho) sell mooncakes from their bakery and form a happy threesome, until the mother passes away, in OVER THE MOON. Four years later, when her dad brings home a new girlfriend (Sandra Oh), complete with annoying 8-year-old son Chin (Robert G. Chiu), Fei Fei decides she must take extreme measures to stop the budding relationship. She uses her gift for science to concoct a rocket ship to fly her to the moon, where the immortal moon goddess of myth, Chang'e (Phillipa Soo), is said to live, awaiting her long-lost love Houyi (Conrad Ricamora). Fei Fei believes that if she can prove Chang'e's existence to her dad, he'll be reminded that one true love can last for eternity. But, things don't go exactly as planned on the moon, and Fei Fei learns a few lessons herself.
Is it any good?
This charming film combines magical locations, impressive animation, memorable musical numbers, sweet characters, and positive life lessons in a fairy tale about the boundless love of family. There are some flaws in Over the Moon, including not enough screen time for the adorable Gobi, played by comedian Ken Jeong, and especially the abrupt change in tone and pace when Fei Fei leaves her immaculate, golden-hued Chinese village and rockets to the moon. Here she enters an imaginary space kingdom made up of candy-colored "lunarian" creatures and a goddess (voiced by Hamilton's Soo) who appears unexpectedly as a kind of pop artist. It's all a bit disconcerting, and can feel at first like you've stumbled into an entirely different movie.
Things eventually even out as Fei Fei's adventures in the lunar wonderland begin to make sense. Secondary characters are also entertaining, especially humorous, defenseless sidekick Gobi (think Sven in Frozen) and incorrigible tag-along little brother Chin. The title of Over the Moon may have multiple meanings for this film: It can be an expression of love or excitement, and it's also the place where Fei Fei travels to open up her heart again (production design was partially inspired by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album cover). The title also hints at Georges Melies' early film adventure, A Trip to the Moon, an image alluded to in the movie. Lastly, it makes reference to the Chinese festival known as the Autumn Moon Festival. All of these aspects and inspiration combine in a layered production that feels in more ways than one like a labor of love.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether any of the settings or characters in Over the Moon felt familiar. If so, which ones?
The director of this film is the renowned Disney character developer behind such classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Tarzan, and Tangled. Did you notice any Disney references or resemblances in this film?
What customs and myths from China might you be inspired to learn more about after watching this movie?
What did you think of the "lunarians" and their candy-colored world and castle in the sky?
What character strengths were on display here?
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2020
- Cast: Kimiko Glenn, Ken Jeong, Phillipa Soo
- Directors: Glen Keane, John Kahrs
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements and mild action
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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