It has been a month since Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings made the statement that he was going to defeat Disney in children’s animation. Although it might be a tough challenge, it appears that the company has been working on it for some time now. Their latest original movie, Over the Moon, is one such example. The movie is good, but it would have been much better if the script had a few more rewrites. But that never happened not because the writer was not motivated enough but because Audrey Wells wrote the script for the movie while fighting terminal cancer. Sadly, we will never know how good the script would have been if she had more time.
However, it would be wrong to say that the movie was not great because of the screenwriters’ unfortunate demise. The most troubling aspect of the movie is probably the inexperience of the director, Glen Keane. Although he is the best animator in the world, he never got the chance to direct an entire movie before Over the Moon. Although he was given the opportunity to direct Tangled, he was soon replaced, and his inexperience might have something to do with it.
The movie does have a very strong protagonist in Fei Fei whose characterization is beautifully done. Despite being a science prodigy, she holds on to her mother’s belief in the moon goddess. However, this is understandable since her mother passes away and holding on to her belief helps her cope with pain. But, she is extremely unhappy about her father’s plans to remarry and tries to change his mind by proving that the moon goddess is real. She builds a rocket on her own and goes to space to do that; to this point, the film is magical as it does a good job of creating an emotional bond between the characters and audience.
However, things change dramatically once she is in space. When she goes to the moon world, one can’t help but notice how under-designed it is, which is quite disappointing since the film has done so well up until now. Moon goddess’s lunar palace forgoes realistic texture which gives it an odd appearance. The movie becomes less compelling as the moon goddess demands Fei Fei for her gift and even the action appears mundane. One does feel that the film goes overboard with the sidekicks as well. However, in the end, the film teaches about dealing with loss of our loved ones which is quite moving.
Although it is not new for cartoons these days to address emotional issues, none of them has been as good as Coco. Over the Moon is good but it could have been great if it had capitalized on a good start. Unfortunately, due to lack of experience of the director that did not happen, and we are left contemplating how good it could have been since the story does have a lot of potential. It appears that Netflix has a long way to go before they can even think of challenging Disney in Children’s animation. However, the movie does make it clear that they are on the right path.