[REVIEW] ‘Over the Moon’: in a Word Enchanting!

So I don’t know if you knew, but I love animated films. LOL. Obviously not all animated films but I love the medium and all it can offer the filmgoer. I love being swept away by the artistry and characters and it is even better when it is also a musical! So, I was primed to love the new animated musical Over the Moon, and fortunately it did not disappoint. What a beautiful hope-filled animated musical. I loved it and can’t wait to watch it again!

Over the Moon is the first feature film from famed animator Glen Keane who created such memorable characters like Ariel, Aladdin, and Beast. Here he is taking us to China with the help of China’s Pearl Studio (who did last year’s Abominable with DreamWorks, which I also really enjoyed). It is a retelling of the classic Chinese myth of the mysterious moon goddess Chang’e.

Chang’e is voiced by Phillipa Soo of Hamilton fame and our young heroine Fei Fei goes after her on a quest to find her Mother who has passed away. Voiced by Cathy Ang, Fei Fei sings about her desire to find answers for her grief:

The music is written by Steven Price, and while I could have used even more songs, what we get is enchanting. I loved Fei Fei as a character and ‘Rocket to the Moon’ is probably the best ‘I want’ song we’ve gotten from a studio since ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen.

I also really enjoyed the sense of family in Over the Moon. Fei Fei’s mother makes mooncakes, which are then sold at the market. When the family has meals together it feels warm and authentic, all sitting together talking. Eventually Fei Fei must learn to get along with a new energetic step-brother Chin (Robert G Chiu) and that is sweet and challenging. A lot of kids will be able to relate to these family dynamics as they felt real and authentic.

When Fei Fei gets to the moon things get a little convoluted, but I still found it charming. I really liked the characters and the heart. It’s the kind of film the entire family can watch together and enjoy. Plus, the animation is completely stunning. What a treat to watch! We even get some 2D animation in sequences!!

I still think Tomm Moore’s Wolfwalkers is the best animated film of the year but Over the Moon is a complete delight. If you are an animation fan and/or a musical fan you will love it!

What do you think of Over the Moon? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section

8.5 out of 10

[REVIEW] ‘A Whisker Away’ or Cats are Cute Especially in Anime

With the closure of theaters from the COVID19 virus many of us have turned to Netflix and other streaming services for new films in 2020. This has brought movies like Extraction, Bad Education, and Palm Springs to the world’s attention. However, one aspect of Netflix’s lineup not given enough credit is their incredible anime selection. Whether series or films they have a large selection of original and curated anime films ready for the viewer to enjoy.

One new offering is from directors Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama called Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu or in English A Whisker Away. This is a shame because Whisker is an adorable film the entire family will enjoy.

A Whisker Away tells the story of Miyo an unhappy young girl who struggles to fit in with her peers and doesn’t get along with her family well especially her stepmother. She does, however, love to daydream about her crush fellow schoolmate Hinode. One day she finds a mask that turns her into a cat and as a cat she’s able to spend more time with her crush but of course blissful cat-dom can’t last forever and things get complicated.

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First of all, Miyo as the cat Taro is so cute. Her bright blue eyes and white fur will charm even the most hardened of cat haters! Miyo is also a character we can all relate to with her insecurities and a fear of rejection we all face especially as teenagers. The longer she stays a cat the harder it is for her to become human again and the decision is harder for her than you might think.

I also enjoyed the world building and magic of A Whisker Away. The script is difficult to predict what is going to happen and the magic is both delightful and scary at the same time. It is definitely reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s The Cat Returns so if you like that film you will definitely like this.

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The writer Mari Okada also wrote Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, which I found to be very underrated from 2018. She is great at capturing emotion in her writing and helping you connect with the characters. She directed Maquia and has another film Her Blue Sky that she wrote which I hope gets a US release because I love her writing.

As far as criticisms of A Whisker Away sometimes the villain Kinako was a little much and distracted from the more interesting coming of age elements with Miyo deciding what she wants out of her life.

Still if you are looking for a hidden gem on Netflix A Whisker Away is a good one!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

[SCOOB!]: a Shoddy Introduction to Scooby-Doo

Going into this year I had a secret shame I knew would come out with this year’s animated offerings. Until today I had never seen anything Scooby-Doo in my life. Growing up I didn’t like anything scary or that had ghosts in it and most of the time we didn’t have cable so something like Scooby-Doo wasn’t a part of my life. In addition, the two live action feature films looked terrible so I never saw those. Everyone has blind spots of pop culture and this was one of mine.

With this gap in my animation viewing I was actually looking forward to the new film SCOOB! from Warner Bros Animation. The animation looked cute and the voicecast is impressive. My hope was the film would be a fun and dynamic introduction into the world of Scooby-Doo.

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Unfortunately I am walking away disappointed with SCOOB! I don’t know how fans will feel but I didn’t care for this film.

The biggest problem with SCOOB! is the script. My understanding is this franchise is all about mystery and spooky stories with a supernatural angle to them. This film has very little of that and instead opts in for a generic, by-the-numbers superhero story. It kind of reminds me of the recent Mummy film where they took out everything that makes a Mummy movie special and replaced it with a generic cinematic universe building plot. Such a shame!

While I enjoyed the voice work and the character designs, the actual characters themselves were frustrating. The biggest problem is the script immediately splits up our team so you have Shaggy and Scooby off with Blue Falcon and company in space while you have Daphne, Fred, and Velma looking for them. I preferred the DFV team every time but would have especially liked having them all together solving a mystery!

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I would like to know how long this script was hanging around because everything about it felt very dated? From the cinematic universe building to the terrible humor it all seemed to come from 10 years ago more than today. For example, there are multiple Simon Cowell jokes. What is this 2005?

People are going to be upset but I don’t think this is much better than Playmobil: the Movie. Both have nice animation but also convoluted storylines and terrible humor, flat characters. SCOOB! has a more recognizable IP to its name so it will definitely do better but the films themselves are similar.

If you are a Scooby-Doo fan and love this film please tell me what I am missing. I would love to hear your insight. As for me, this is a a definite skip!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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