Asian representation has seen an uptick in popular media. We’re seeing stories like Fresh off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians garner lots of media attention and showcase great Asian-American talents, highlighting a bit of East Asian culture, but one film you may have missed was Over the Moon.
Over the Moon is a Netflix Original about Young Fei Fei and the story her mother tells of Chang’e, the moon goddess. After the death of her mother, Young Fei Fei struggles to accept her passing. Meanwhile, her father moves on and introduces her to a new woman and her son, Chin. Chin is excited at the prospect of gaining a sister, and as little brothers are prone to doing, annoys Fei Fei to no end.
Eventually, Fei Fei builds a rocket ship in an effort to find the moon goddess to ask that her mother be brought back to life, but Chin’s attachment to his new sister throws a wrench on those plans.
The movie was well-received with its beautiful visuals, fun songs, and loveable characters. It’s easily digestible and a great film for everybody. It was also nice to see a Chinese-inspired film with a pre-dominantly Asian cast. Fei Fei is even voiced by Cathy Ang, a Chinese-Filipino.
The lore Over the Moon was based on is also a nice glimpse into Chinese culture. However, personally, I think the film could have done more with the Moon Goddess myth. While the opening of the film was promising and properly explained the story behind mooncakes, I felt it kind of flat-lined upon the introduction of Chin and his mother.
If they had put Fei Fei and Chin in more scenes together, perhaps I would have found Fei Fei’s acceptance of Chin as her shoti to be more emotional. Chang’e also felt a bit underdeveloped as a character, and she lacked a bit of substance. She did, however, make up for all that with her style.
While the main human characters weren’t exactly my favorite, the animals featured in the film were extremely enjoyable. These included Bungee, Fei Fei’s pet rabbit; a few chow chows; Harley-riding chickens; and Chin’s pet frog, just to name a few. On top of that, I did enjoy the depiction of Chinese family life and tradition as that felt extremely familiar to me.
So do you watch it or not?
I’d still take the time to watch it at least once. You’ll be sure to have a chuckle at how similar some characters are to your beloved aunties and uncles, and your ahmah will love the mooncake shop scenes. Your little cousins will also enjoy the bright shapes and colors, as well as the catchy songs in the film — maybe something will finally replace Baby Shark.
Overall, an enjoyable film to watch and a nice way to introduce your non-Chinoy friends to some of your Chinese practices.