Movie #55 2021: Over the Moon (2020)

It’s (finally!) awards season! This week the Golden Globes made a comeback, and although I have heard in good faith that a lot of this year’s nominees are questionable (what’s new?), I made a point of trying to view some of the nominees before the ceremony.

Over the Moon is nominated in the Best Animated Picture category (spoiler, I write my reviews in advance, so I have no idea which movie won at the time of writing), but it is amongst some pretty strong competition. Pixar giants Onward and Soul are also nominated, so will this even get a look in? The story tells the tale of a young Chinese girl who has recently lost her mother. When her father moves on and gets close to a new woman, she wants to escape. Being extremely good at maths and science, she builds her very own rocket ship in order to blast off to the moon. Her reasoning? She thinks if she makes it, she has a shot at meeting to fabled moon goddess that her family have always spoken of.

My first thoughts? Over the Moon is a very welcome change from the stuff that Disney/Pixar have been churning out recently. Of course the animation behemoths have a lot going for them, and I truly believe Soul is up there with the best movies they’ve ever made, but it’s about time someone challenged them and one can only hope that smaller studios continue to do so in the future.

Visually, the thing that immediately stands out here is the amalgamation of different animation styles used. The hand drawn stuff is really wonderful, and the surface of the moon and traditional landscapes with rivers and grassy fields show glimpses of pure brilliance. Sadly, it feels as though the animation of the characters themselves let the movie down and was a little rough around the edges at times, but it’s not distracting to the extent where you’ll lose interest in the story. What you get here is something truly original.

Most of the songs are pretty forgettable, attempting to emulate Frozen it seems. (No shade – both soundtracks are perfectly fine, they’re just not exactly catchy.) However, Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) singing the psychedelic Eurovision-worthy “Ultraluminary” was the only gift I needed. What a pure anthem. It’s so good that I feel the need to provide you with it:

The story itself is very sentimental and sweet, but mostly I was pleasantly surprised by the humour! The A Trip to the Moon (1902) reference really made me chuckle, and there are several gags and adorable pieces of animation (the pet rabbit!) that will keep even the adults entertained. There’s certainly some very clever comedy hidden within this if you watch closely enough.

Overall, it’s not a movie that’ll be remembered in 20 years, but it really is heart-warming and just about reaches the heights of those blasted ‘leading’ animation studios. For a kids film it is a little bit long… However, it’s easy to see why it’s in the awards season conversation. Cute stuff.

Over the Moon is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

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