At a time punctuated by the steady rhythm of bad news, escapism has begun to feel impossible. Many (read: all) of us have already dreamed of slipping out of this claustrophobic moment into some place where social distancing isn’t A Thing.
Everyone wants a vacation, and the closest we can get to that is movies. Thankfully, Netflix has us covered.
On Tuesday, Netflix released the trailer for Over The Moon. The film is a beautiful, whimsical adaptation of the ancient Chinese fable of Chang’e — the Chinese moon goddess — which plays a central role in the country’s annual Mid-Autumn Festival.
But the movie version is a little bit different from its source material. It follows the story of a 13-year-old girl named Fei Fei, who builds a rocket to travel to the moon in the hopes of meeting the Moon Goddess and proving, once and for all, the stories her parents once told her of Chang’e. “Believing is everything,” the trailer says, and it’s true: Fei Fei finds herself on the moon among a world of wondrous and fantastical creatures, in pursuit of an elusive moon goddess.
And in case you’re watching the trailer and marvelling at the beautiful gowns Chang’e is wearing, here’s some news: Guo Pei, the famed Chinese couturier — whose work was the subject of a late-2018 exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery and who outfitted Rihanna for her legendary appearance at the 2015 Met Gala — designed them.
The movie is directed by Oscar-winner Glen Keane, the legendary former Disney animator best known for breathing life into many of the world’s most beloved characters, like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, The Beast in Beauty And The Beast, and Aladdin… in the movie Aladdin. (Keane also directed Dear Basketball, the Oscar-winning animated short film about Kobe Bryant.)
Over The Moon also features the voices of (among many others) John Cho, Ken Jeong, Kimiko Glenn, and Sandra Oh.
Oh had a rather funny way of getting involved with the film, which is to say she was literally ambushed in a parking lot after a Writers Guild memorial service for Audrey Wells. Wells, who wrote Over The Moon, died of cancer in 2018, and Oh knew her well from the number of films they’d worked on together. When she left the service, one of the film’s producers, Gennie Rim, decided to follow after her.
“I knew you were there and I heard that you had left the building and I ran after you into the parking lot,” Rim said, over a Zoom call panel with others who worked on the film, according to Insider. “I stopped your car and I said, ‘Please. Please. Please be a part of this.’ I felt a wave of Audrey pulling me to come find you to be part of this.”
In fact, Over The Moon was the last film Wells ever wrote, and so Oh felt a certain compulsion to open up her schedule for it. “I was so happy that you stopped my car,” Oh told Rim. She said the moment felt serendipitous, like Wells telling her, “You did my first film. You need to do the last one.”
Wells wrote the script for Over The Moon as a love letter to her daughter and husband, imbuing it with the message that, even when you lose someone, even when they’ve left the world behind, the love you share with them does not expire.