PG and I'm not really sure why. Like many other animated films, the movie deals with the loss of a parent. There's also some selfish behavior, but that selfish behavior is addressed and becomes part of the overall message of the film. There aren't any dirty jokes that I can remember. The peril is fairly mild. Honest to Pete, I'm not really sure where the P in PG is coming from. PG.
DIRECTORS: Glen Keane and John Kahrs
Oh man, this is the not the blog I want to be writing on a Monday morning. A while ago, my kids watched this movie. They had started it a few minutes before I got there, so I used that as a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card and read a book. (Maybe I played a game. I just remember that I felt like I didn't need to watch it.) My wife then said, "You know, when it is up for an Oscar for Best Animated Film, you are going to have to watch it." She was right. Never marry a psychic or someone who knows you all too well.
There were moments, guys. There were real moments. I'm talking about moments when this felt like Netflix had out-Disney'ed Disney. I started this movie in awe of how much I was really enjoying it. It was this adorable movie about the loss of a family member. Again, you know my neuroses / catnip at this point. Watching a movie where a kid loses a parent and has to deal with the changes that the world throws at them is something that gets me far too much. And then there were moments where the movie became kind of boring. It's the parts that everyone else enjoys. Yes, I am a better person because I like slow moments. But Over the Moon works when it is a vulnerable film about grief and healing, not about going to the moon to find a magic pendant.
I'm sure someone out there is automatically disagreeing with me. I know that the journey is a metaphor for Fei Fei's pain and acceptance of life moving on. It's just that the metaphor...isn't very good? There's this attitude that kids really need high adventure in every kids movie. Similar to what I thought about Up, the movie really crushes when it isn't hiding behind the high adventure. I didn't know what this movie was about when I first started it, so I simply assumed it would be this story about this girl being awful to her perfectly nice stepmom. But the movie starts to tease that only to remove Fei Fei from the story. I get it. Fei Fei has to come across as being sympathetic, so when she discovers that she's the villain of the piece, we can forgive her actions. So it makes Mom to be this absolute saint and Dad to be a wimp when deciding to play it passive around his daughter about his new fiancée. But riding on giant frogs doesn't really keep the metaphor going. I know and appreciate that the film roots itself in Chinese mythology, but I don't see the one-to-one connection between Fei Fei's personal journey and chasing down this gift.
And I really wanted to see the connection. Do you know how much I root for the underdog when it comes to taking on Disney? As much as a I gush over the quality of the Disney film, it gets a little old. I mean, I love that Over the Moon has a lot of music to it. It felt like it had more music than any Disney movie of the past five years, and that includes Frozen II. Maybe I'm crazy about that, but I really appreciate it. But there weren't any really memorable songs. Maybe it is because I don't have people singing those songs every two seconds or requesting Alexa to play those songs on a loop, but I can't think of one song in the bunch. It's not like these songs were bad. It's just that they weren't catchy.
I'm about to spiral out into my own personal demons, so bear with me. The logical and objective part of me roots for the message of the film. Fei Fei should give her new stepmother and stepbrother a chance. They seem like personally nice people. It's just that, what if they weren't great? It's a story that I can't get behind. There's this assumption that someone coming to help a parent heal is automatically a lovable character. But we really leave this film knowing nothing about Mrs. Zhong (I think that I have the right character) or her kid. I think that I can get behind Chin because it isn't his fault that he's in this situation. Fei Fei really punishes him for his optimism and positive outlook towards life. It's probably why Chin is in the story, to make you turn on Fei Fei when necessary.
But then there's the problem with Chin: he isn't a character. Okay, that's being harsh. He's a very flat character. He's likable as heck, being so optimistic. But Chin is going through the same thing that Fei Fei is. He's gaining a sibling very quickly. He doesn't know Fei Fei, but he clamps onto her very VERY quickly. It is understandable that Fei Fei finds this kind of annoying because he's just so aggressive. If you try defining Chin, he also makes no sense. I feel like there's the metaphor of "no barriers" being a funny metaphor, but also having the benefits of being an actual superpower. We know that the no barriers thing shouldn't work. But it works when it has to. Also, Chin's Ping-Pong talent is in the movie just to have scenes that need it. I don't really think that the character is developed enough to justify these moments.
Also, the dog is just an attempt to be Olaf.
But for all of my complaints about the movie, it does have a lovely representation of Chinese culture. Yeah, there were many things that I just don't have the personal experience with. But it did seem like this rich world where reality and mythology kind of intertwined into a fun mixture. It was a gorgeous movie. Perhaps it lacked the spit and polish of a Disney movie, but that didn't stop it from being absolutely breathtaking for a lot of the movie. It's a pretty movie with pretty music.
So for a kids' movie, it does the job. Yeah, it is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but that's some pretty low hanging fruit. I don't see it winning, but I appreciate having watched it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.