5.5/10 Another movie nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, “Over the Moon” falls closer to “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” than it does to “Onward” or “Soul”. There are many aspects that work well and which I admired but for every positive thing to come out of the movie, there is a negative one to match it, unfortunately. To get the negative out of the way first, even though this is a Netflix original movie and not a Disney one, it borrows heavily from some Disney clichés. For example, we get the classic “one parent is dead” setup that almost every Disney movie seems to have. Although the parent’s death is integral to the plot, pair this with “Onward” and we have at least two of the Best Animated Feature nominees that use this plot device. “Onward” at least was a great film so I saw past that cliché but I can’t say the same about this movie. The other plot device taken straight from Disney (which makes sense when you realize that director Glen Keane used to work there) is the token oddball sidekick that the main protagonist has. This is usually an animal but in this case an alien pangolin named Gobi. Like most of the Disney sidekicks, Gobi too is super annoying and exists more so for merchandising purposes. The script tries to place the comic relief with him but all of his jokes fall flat. Despite a talented voice cast, John Cho feels miscast and was the only member of the cast who just didn’t fit in to his role for me. Finally, the Moon Goddess Chang’e, like our protagonist Fei Fei, is suffering from a great loss of a loved one. While we get to see Fei Fei with her mother and are more emotionally connected to that relationship and feel her sorrow, we know absolutely nothing about Chang’e’s relationship with her lost love and so we don’t feel her pain at all, which is a problem. Some flashbacks could have established that relationship better so we cared but it never happens so we don’t care. As for what worked, also like a Disney film, this is a musical. For non-Disney films this is a rarity as DreamWorks and Pixar have yet to make any true musicals to my knowledge. So just having this be a musical is refreshing and the music is really strong here. Some songs are very catchy and uplifting and other songs are powerful and emotional. The animation looks fantastic, especially the colorful realm of Lunaria, with its eye popping visuals. With the exception of Cho, the voice cast is pitch perfect and even though I couldn’t stand the character of Gobi, Ken Jeong is phenomenal and completely dedicated to the role. He was my favorite character to listen to (and even gets a song) just for what Jeong does with his voice. The two big female performers, Cathy Ang and Phillipa Soo (from “Hamilton”) have incredible singing voices and kill their roles. They were a pleasure to listen to. The running time says one hour and 40 minutes but the last 15 minutes are credits so this is actually an hour and 25 minutes, which flies by with its strong pacing. So even if you end up a bit disappointed overall as I did, you won’t feel like you lost a lot of time viewing this. Overall, the stunning voice work, music and animation can’t make up for the script problems and this ends up falling short of Pixar’s 2020 films that this is up against at the Oscars. Not a bad watch and I’m sure the kids will enjoy it, but don’t set your expectations over the moon.

#GobiAlone / #TheHangOverTheMoon / #2BrokenGirls / #TheFeiFeiBack / #TeamRocket / #ChineseDreamz

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