CHINA: THE NEW ANIMATED FEATURE “OVER THE MOON” OUTSHINES “MULAN”

CADY-BREE ABE WRITES — Both audiences and critics alike are over the moon for, yes, Over the Moon, the newest computer animated feature to hit Netflix on October 23. The Chinese film, produced by Peilin Chou (“Kung Fu Panda,” “Abominable”),  stars Chinese-Filipina actress/singer Cathy Ang as Fei Fei, American born John Cho (Harold Lee in the “Harold & Kumar” films) as her father, and Canadian born actress Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang of “Gray’s Anatomy”) as Mrs. Zhong.

After the disastrous live action Mulan that was released this year,  some were afraid to see another beloved cultural Chinese story turned into a movie. Like Mulan, “Over the Moon” is based on a very important folklore tale. It tells the traditional story of Chang’e (嫦娥) which is very relevant to the Mid Autumn Moon Festival (中秋节). The story is story centered around a beautiful woman who takes a potion to achieve immortality and become a goddess on the moon, where she waits for her lover Houyi.

Fortunately, unlike Mulan, Over the Moon offers both accurate representation and lively entertainment. For example, the movie perfectly depicts that delectable Chinese treat and cultural touchstone, the mooncake (月饼), a special semi-sweet dessert made up, in part, of red dates and melon seeds, which is traditionally eaten during the Moon Festival. The film outlines the baking process in a song montage showing people using wooden rolling pins to shape the mooncake mould.

Over the Moon also depicts realistic Asian family structures. It shows how, during the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, families from all over China come together (团圆) to cook and eat an extravagant dinner while admiring the beautiful full moon. The film correctly depicts the importance of family, while also adding witty humor that many Asian Americans can relate to, such as sassy “aunties,” and grandmas who all too often criticize young women’s weight.

Over the Moon tells its story through the use of Mandarin, a traditional Chinese dialect. The most iconic inclusion of the language is in the song “Yours Forever,” sung by Phillipa Soo and Comrad Ricamora. The movie’s entrancing soundtrack is so beautifully, chillingly performed, it could well leave audiences simultaneously singing and crying.

Over the Moon is a feel-good, animated movie that is also educational, so it’s great for watching with family and friends. It offers an easy-to-digest introduction to authentic Chinese culture, made scrumptious through the use of fantasy, folklore and musical entertainment-an irresistible movie treat.

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