Linda Cook review: Families will be ‘Over the Moon’ about this animated musical

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The latest animated musical has endearing characters, eye-popping colors and action galore.

“Over the Moon” is about loss, legends, and growing up, with something for every age group.

Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) happily lives with her parents, who tell her the legend of the Chinese moon goddess and the jade rabbit who live on the moon.

When Fei Fei loses her mother, she continues to believe in the moon goddess as Fei Fei grows older. She becomes determined to build a rocket ship to prove the goddess exists.

When Fei Fei realizes her life may be changing because of her widowed father’s interest in another woman, she becomes more determined than ever to build her rocket and take along her adorable rabbit Bungee.

Her plans go beyond her wildest dreams when the rocket takes an unexpected journey, and Fei Fei discovers more than she bargains for.

As the moon goddess, “Hamilton’s” Philippa Soo sings “Ultraluminary,” one of the showstopper songs. The tunes have a lush, showtune quality that are on par with musical numbers from other, more well-known animated features.

Speaking of which. This looks and sounds a lot like the musicals that come from a different, long-admired studio. That’s probably because director Glen Keane is among the animators responsible for the likes of Aladdin, Ariel and Pocahontas.

While this is mostly an upbeat story, I love the way the songs and situations focus on longing, and often on grief – the Chamber of Exquisite Sadness is part of the tale. It’s a reflection of a time when people of all ages are longing for a simpler time before COVID-19 changed the world.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has halted so much live-action filming, maybe this film is the beginning of an animation renaissance.

I hope so, because solid, family entertainment like this always will be appreciated.

3 out of 4 stars

Rated: PG for adult themes and dangerous situations.

Running time: One hour and 35 minutes.

Streaming on Netflix.

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