For the rest of the year, marquee animation remains decidedly in flux. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon got shifted to next spring (amidst a creative leadership shake-up) and Pixar’s Soul remains, like the characters in the movie, in a nebulous state of limbo. Thankfully, the streaming services are picking up the slack, with Apple TV+’s Wolfwalkers from the Cartoon Saloon gang (it’s directed by The Secret of the Kells filmmaker Tomm Moore) and Netflix’s highly anticipated computer-generated extravaganza Over the Moon. And now we know a little bit more about that Netflix project – including its release date (which is pretty soon!)
Over the Moon comes from some animation heavy hitters. It’s directed by Glen Keane, the legendary Disney character animator behind the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and the title characters in Aladdin and Tarzan. He also recently won an Oscar for his Kobe Bryant short film “Dear Basketball.” This wasn’t supposed to be his directorial debut. For years he toiled away on a version of Tangled for Disney that ultimately never worked out and he left the project (and the studio) citing health concerns. Working alongside Keane is his co-director, John Kahrs. Kahrs directed the enchanting, envelope-pushing Disney short “Paperman,” which utilized a unique process where 2D drawings were mapped on top of 3D models. (The process was so incredible that Disney tried to employ it on an early version of Moana; apparently it didn’t work as well in color.) To have these two heavyweights together is pretty exciting.
In the BTS video, Keane sums up the plot of the movie, which follows a young girl named Fei Fei (played by Cathy Ang) who builds a rocket ship to travel to the dark side of the moon and meet an enchanted goddess she thinks can help her. (At the beginning of the movie she loses her mom, so we imagine it has something to do with that.) “The story, very much at its heart, is a musical,” Keane explains. We then get to hear a good amount of “Rocket to the Moon,” a big song from the movie, with some very cute stories about Ang singing it for the first time and that version landing in the movie. And then the kicker – the movie’s release date of October 23! That’s not too far!
Over the Moon looks absolutely gorgeous and totally enthralling, with animation from Pearl Studios (formerly DreamWorks Oriental) and Sony Pictures Image Works and, clearly, a very impressive creative team. It will be wonderful to finally see a feature-length Glen Keane movie and everything that goes along with that. Fly me to the moon.