OVER THE MOON – Review by Carol Cling

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For a movie that spends so much time on the lunar surface, Over the Moon proves stubbornly earthbound.

This CGI-animated musical, which marks the directorial debut of veteran animator Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), boasts plenty of eye-popping colors and frenetic action.

But in cobbling together multiple elements from other, better predecessors — everything from The Wizard of Oz to CocoOver the Moon pales by comparison.

The adventure begins as young Fei Fei (voiced by Cathy Ang) joins her loving parents (John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles) for a celebration of China’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

Fei Fei’s particularly entranced by the legend of lunar goddess Chang’e, who rose to the moon after imbibing an immortality potion, only to spend eternity longing for her soulmate — who was, alas, merely mortal.

Fei Fei’s affinity for the tale of Chang’e proves sadly prophetic when her mother becomes ill and dies.

Four years later, her father, a baker, informs 12-year-old Fei Fei that the family may be expanding with the addition of a new mom (voiced by Sandra Oh) and her boisterous son Chin (Robert G. Chiu).

That daunting prospect inspires Fei Fei to fire up her astrophysics skills and launch an expedition to the moon, complete with homemade rocket, to find Chang’e.

There’s just one problem: pesky stowaway Chin.

Make that two problems: Chang’e (voiced by Philippa Soo, Hamilton’s original Eliza Schuyler) turns out to be a total space diva, dominating the day-glo outpost of Lunaria with something less than goddess-like compassion.

Over the Moon’s sometimes spirited, sometimes scrambled script (by the late Audrey Wells, who died of cancer in 2018) bounces from low-key human interaction to over-the-top lunar lunacy.

The latter’s embodied by Gobi, a motormouth canine voiced by Ken Jeong — who’s joined in the capable vocal cast by the likes of Margaret Cho and Sandra Oh. (At least Fei Fei’s impossibly cute pet rabbit doesn’t talk.)

Throughout, the animation contrasts Fei Fei’s down-to-earth existence with the Moon Goddess’ colorful lunar life.

Similarly, the movie’s songs (by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield and Helen Park), which range from heartfelt ballads to bouncy K-Pop beats, get the job done. But they never quite take flight.

The same can be said of Over the Moon as a whole. It’s a pleasant enough voyage — but hardly an earth-shaking one.

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Carol Cling

Carol Cling served as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's film critic for more than 30 years, reviewing movies and covering movie and TV production in Las Vegas, from Casino to CSI. An honors graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she also has studied film at the American Film Institute and the BBC