We’ve all heard the phrase “The Man in the Moon,” but who wanted to go see if he’s up there? That’s a rough approximation of the upcoming Netflix animated film Over the Moon, the first trailer of which has just landed.
The film follows a young girl named Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) who grows up hearing stories of a Goddess waiting for her true love on the Moon. When reality strikes Fei Fei in a horrible way, she realises a little magic could help things, so she builds a rocket hoping to fly into space to find the Moon Goddess.
“This story is about an Asian family that is rooted in love,” John Cho, who voices Fei Fei’s father, said in a press conference Gizmodo attended (virtually). “And that to me was the tractor beam. And that’s what differentiates it. That’s what gives it its heart. And I love that about this film.”
Cho is joined by Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, Ruthie Ann Miles, Sandra Oh, Margaret Cho, Robert G. Chiu, and Kimiko Glenn in the voice cast. They were assembled by director Glen Keane, who won an Oscar for his Kobe Bryant documentary Dear Basketball and worked on Disney films from Pete’s Dragon to Tangled. Audrey Wells (The Hate U Give) wrote the screenplay. Here’s the first trailer for Over the Moon.
“It’s always about the character,” Keane said when asked what drew him to the film. “That’s the first question in my mind, ‘Can I live in the skin of this character?’ Because I’ve spent my entire career bringing characters to light from the inside out. And it was really important to me to note, ‘Do I believe in what this character believes?’”
Keane remembered the specific moment when that question was answered. A moment you saw in the trailer.
“When I was reading the script there’s this moment where Fei Fei has built this rocket to the moon and it’s taking off and I’m thinking, ‘OK, I know she’s really smart and I know that she’s got a huge imagination. I love these two things. But if that rocket just goes straight to the moon, I’m not buying it.’ And as I’m reading it, the rocket’s going up and then everything goes wrong and starts to fall backward. And I’m like, ‘Yes, I like this story.’”
Everyone involved seems to think it isn’t just the whimsy that makes Over the Moon special, but it’s realistic, grounded portrayal of Asian culture too.
“One thing I’ll note about this particular film is and what attracted me to it is, obviously, I’m always going to be interested in something that, is rooted in Asian culture,” Cho said. “But it’s hard to find things that don’t represent Asian culture, especially family dynamics, as something that’s not oppressive or is attached to shame.”
And yet, Over the Moon is still about a girl who flies to the moon and, as seen in the trailer, finds some kind of magical new work. It has a realistic setup but, apparently, it goes way beyond that.
“We did something in this movie that more than anything I’ve ever worked on,” Keane said. “You animated the moment of discovery. The moment in the eyes where the light goes on. Fei Fei’s eyes are all about just letting the audience in and seeing her brain work and making choices. We spent all of our screen time on those moments more than any animated film I’ve ever seen [or] worked on.”
Over the Moon will be released on Netflix in spring.