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Review: Fei Fei and the Moon – Over the Moon (2020)

Fei Fei and the Moon – Over the Moon (2020)

Directed by: Glen Keane, John Kahrs | 95 minutes | animation, adventure, musical | Original voice cast: Cathy Ang, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Glen Keane, Brycen Hall, Edie Ichioka, Greg Watanabe, Sandra Oh, Robert G. Chiu, Margaret Cho, Kimiko Glenn, Artt Butler, Irene Tsu, Clem Cheung

12-year-old Fei Fei lives with her father in a romantic Chinese village, one of those with floating lotus flowers, colorful lanterns and picturesque houses. Fei Fei is not very happy. Her mother passed away four years ago and now her father arrives with a new friend. Worse, that new flame has a super-busy little boy who claims to walk through walls and who has a frog as a pet.

That’s all asking a lot for a 12-year-old, but Fei Fei isn’t the slacker type. To get her life in order, she decides to fly to the moon, to visit a moon goddess that her mother used to tell. So she builds a rocket and flies to the moon, only to find out that her super-busy stepbrother has traveled as a stowaway. She also discovers that the moon is not dull and gray, but a colorful fantasy world where the strangest creatures live.

In case it’s not clear yet: ‘Fei Fei en de Maan’ (‘Over the Moon’) is an animation that has borrowed a lot from Disney. With a brave main character, animals as sidekicks, lots of songs (from soft swoon songs to K-pop), sugary scenes and cheerful humor. ‘Fei Fei en de Maan’ also follows a trend that fits well with the zeitgeist. Just like in ‘Up’ and ‘Inside Out’ the theme is quite serious; despite all the fun, ‘Fei Fei and the Moon’ is about loss and grief. Of course, the film is never top-heavy, but the undertone is already set in the first minutes.

In terms of animation and (excellent) cast, this Chinese-American co-production surprises. The cast is largely made up of Asian Americans and Americanized Asians, including John Cho, Cathy Ang and Sandra Oh. The animation differs per act. In the village, the lines are tight and the colors are fairly natural. The moon is a different story. There the colors are of the candy store kind, with a preference for fluorescent. There are hardly any lines (except for the characters), making the whole look almost liquid. It is not very pretty, but it does give the scenes on the moon something festive.

Despite the slightly too present Disney elements, ‘Fei Fei and the moon’ is otherwise fine to enjoy. Not very original, not overly high quality, but more than enough quality for a sweet and funny animation. And that for a film about mourning.

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