Movies

Soul: A Spirited Comedy and a Reminder of What Life’s All About

Soul | Disney Movies

Movie Review: Soul (Spoiler-Free)

Rating: 9.0 out of 10 stars

Intro

I was not sure what to expect from this movie when I decided to watch it. The only thing I had heard about it was that it was a bit “odd.” I couldn’t have anticipated how touching and fascinating it would be.

Sure, it was a little strange, but that’s part of what gave it its charm. It was worth every minute!

Background

Soul was created by Pixar and is currently streaming on Disney+. It stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, and Angela Bassett.

Pete Doctor, the director of Inside Out, developed the idea for Soul by considering what causes personalities and thinking about determinism.

Pixar settled on the idea of a musician for the main character after discarding the idea of a having his profession be scientist, offering the reason that that the musician’s life is just so “naturally pure” (1).

Summary

Soul Movie Review: Pixar Close to Its Best With Pre-Life Existential Romp

Soul is about a middle school band teacher by the name of Joe Gardner whose dreams are about to come true. Only before they do, he falls down an open manhole. His soul is then jettisoned into the afterlife, where he refuses to go to the Great Beyond and ends up in the Great Before instead.

The Great Before is where new souls get their personalities and prepare for life on Earth. Trying to blend in, he ends up becoming a mentor for a precocious soul called 22 who never wants to leave the Great Before. Life on Earth seems pointless and aggravating, in her opinion.

Joe soon realizes that if 22 gains her spark, she will receive a free pass to Earth. 22 agrees to give the pass to Joe if she finds her spark, because then she will never have to deal with life on Earth.

The movie follows their adventure to get Joe back in his body and a journey of self-discovery for 22.

Pros

  • Diversity
  • Brilliant animation
  • In-depth worldbuilding
    • Settings and backgrounds
    • Concept
  • Interesting characters
  • Superb character development
  • Comedic dialogue
  • Phenomenal music
  • Uplifting message

Cons

  • Black main character spends majority of movie in a different form

Review

Diversity

Soul: Jamie Foxx Explains Why The Barbershop Scenes Are Integral To The Film

Soul is one of the few Disney movies with an African-American protagonist, and Joe Gardner was also Pixar’s first African-American protagonist.

Additionally, one of the settings is a Black barbershop, which shows a wide array of hairstyles of young Black people.

To make sure they avoided stereotypes Pixar had twenty Black people provide their opinions in addition to Black members of the Pixar crew.

It is unfortunate that Joe Gardner spends most of the movie in a different form, similar to the way Tiana spent most of her time as a frog in The Princess and the Frog. While some of that was hard to avoid, since it was a movie based heavily on the experience of the soul, it might have been better to have Joe Gardner do more in his own body.

Animation

'Soul' trailer unveils Pixar's latest emotional animated ...

The animation was wonderful, even when the images, such as that of the Jerry’s, was simple.

Pixar focused especially on the texture of Black hair and the way that light shows differently on various tones of skin. (2)

Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding includes setting, but also the development of the concept and what makes the world tick.

The Great Before is perhaps the most interesting setting, with its array of soft colors, hordes of new souls, and assortment of Picasso-esque counselors all named Jerry.

The creation of the Great Before, where souls develop their personalities, was the most creative choice made in this movie.

The way the universe works in general, with Terry keeping track of the numbers of souls and the staircase leading to the Great Beyond, are pulled from more common ideas of what the afterlife would be like.

The mentorship program, where successful souls are paired with new souls to help them find their spark, was an interesting way to create a lot of humor, showing the way famous figures would react to young new souls.

Characters

Joe Gardner’s passion is music. He’s a middle school band teacher, but he wants to just be a jazz musician. He’s self-absorbed to the point of almost being completely unlikable, but he is not all bad. He’s also driven, determined, and talented.

22 is bored, cynical, and nonchalant. She is the 22nd soul to ever have existed, which shows just how long she has been unwilling to go to Earth. Despite her carefree attitude, 22 actually has deep-seated anxieties and feelings of self-doubt that she must grapple with throughout the movie. Her voice sounds like a “middle-aged White lady.”

Dialogue

The dialogue in this movie was witty and often comedic. Perhaps the best quotes came from those that mentored 22 in the past.

I have compassion for every soul…except you. I don’t like you.”

The Soul of Mother Teresa

The world doesn’t revolve around you, 22!”

The Soul of Copernicus

Stop talking! My unconscious mind hates you!”

The Soul of Carl Jung

Music

The music was wonderful, except the one part at the beginning with band class. That was intentionally awful. But other than that, it was a phenomenal supplement to the movies themes.

Message

The message is a profound consideration of what it truly is that makes life worth living, and that one’s passion can make a person lose sight of their purpose.

Conclusion

I would recommend this movie for both children and adults. If you enjoyed Inside Out, then Soul is likely to appeal to you. It is worth a subscription to Disney+ just to watch this movie.

Rating System

If you’re interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Recommended Links

  1. IMDB Trivia
  2. NY Times Article
Movies

If You Haven’t Watched This Classic Fantasy Movie, You Should

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - IMDb

Rating: 9.7 out of 10 stars

Intro

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is an old favorite of mine. I had the privilege of watching it recently with one of my sisters who had never seen it before.

Getting to watch the movie was a bit of an adventure. My dad, who I sometimes call “Tech Support,” tried to get our Xbox One to play the DVD, but the Xbox gave up on life and showed the black screen of death instead. We then tried to find it on Netflix and to see if it was included for free on Amazon Prime, to no avail. Finally, we hooked up the PS3, which we never use, and used it to play the DVD.

Background

One ring | Mythology wiki | Fandom

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001. It stars Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Sean Bean (Boromir), Billy Boyd (Pippin Took) and Dominic Monaghen (Merry Brandybuck).

It was directed by Peter Jackson. The film falls into the genres of Fantasy and Adventure.

Summary

Sauron - Wikipedia

The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is based around a ring. Nine rings were once forged and given to various rulers of the dominant kingdoms. Then an evil being named Sauron made a single ring that was more powerful than any of the others.

After a pivotal battle, the ring was lost and claimed by a human, and then was lost again. It was found by Gollum and then stolen by Bilbo, a hobbit, who would pass it on to Frodo.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring follows Frodo’s journey and that of others who seek to undermine Sauron’s power by destroying the ring.

Pros

  • Begins with low storytelling voice that encourages close listening
  • Gorgeous landscapes
  • Ornate architecture fitting the culture of each town
  • Phenomenal musical scores
  • Strong message of hope, courage, and purpose
  • Attractive and fitting costume design
  • Fascinating, insightful dialogue
  • Innovative CGI
  • Realistic orcs with prosthetics and make-up
  • Tolkien’s spoken elfin language is convincingly like a natural language
  • The written language on the ring is foreign and unique
  • Does not veer much from the book
  • Frodo, Boromir, and Aragorn have strong character development
  • Camera angles and movement increases immersion into the story

Cons

  • One scene with Galadriel is over-dramatic and looks fake
  • A lot of characters, but not much character development for most of them

Review

Beginning

The beginning of the movie starts with a low female voice telling the story of how the rings were created and the one ring came into existence. The voice is soft enough that I was tempted to listen closely, on the edge of my seat. It was a storyteller’s voice–one that promised a powerful, gripping, simple yet complex tale.

Setting

Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring | Film Locations

The landscapes of New Zealand where the movie was filmed were beautiful. Every landscape they traversed was stunning, like something out of a travel brochure. All the scenes of travel that made the movie longer were worth it because of the charming, idyllic land.

LOTR, Landscape and Settings, All Works on RowlingTolkienLewis ... | Lord  of the rings, Middle earth, Background images

The makers of the film paid great attention to detail, especially for architecture. This made settings like Rivendell not only attractive but also unique to the culture they represent.

Places of Fancy: Where Is Rivendell in 'The Lord of the Rings'?

Music

Fotrcd-cover.jpg

The music was composed by Howard Shore. In my opinion, the best song out of the lot is “Concerning Hobbits.” The music of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is both iconic and epic.

If you want to learn why the music of The Lord of the Rings has the power to captivate listeners, listen for yourself.

Message

The message is one of hope, courage, and purpose. This movie shows how there can be hope even in the darkest times and that courage can prevail against the powers of darkness. The story follows ordinary people who show tremendous bravery in the face of adversity.

Gandalf affirms that the ring that was found by Bilbo and passed on to Frodo did not fall into their hands by accident. All things happen for a reason, he insists. This gives the heroes a sense of purpose.

Costumes

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | George Eastman Museum

The costumes are well-made and fit the character. For the hobbits, capes and clothes perfect for work and relaxation–peasant clothes. For Gandalf, an old man who does not care much about appearance, a simple cloak and a hat that has much character. For others, clothes befitting their status and positions are used. The clothes do not look tacky.

Dialogue

Gandalf | The One Wiki to Rule Them All | Fandom

The dialogue of the movie is rich and includes many quotable moments. For instance, when the value of a character’s life is questioned, Gandalf says:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?”

Gandalf

CGI

What do you think of Peter Jackson's depiction of the Balrog in Fellowship  of the Ring? - Quora

The CGI, especially for the Balrog and Gollum, was innovative for its time and has stood the test of time. True, it’s only 19 years old, but there are plenty of films from around that time that would look contrived and poorly done by today’s standards.

Language

The elfin language used in the movie sounds natural and flowing. It is not like the made-up languages in many movies and books that are usually based on English or Latin. It is unique.

The written languages also appear to be authentic and realistic.

Likeness to the Book

Most changes from the book were made to save time, such as removing the whole Tom Bombadil scene that was in in the book. The movie was very faithful to the book.

Character Development

Fellowship of the Ring (group) | The One Wiki to Rule Them All | Fandom

Frodo is a character who seems nondescript but is capable of great bravery when the situation requires it. He feels a responsibility for what happens in the world, even though he wants nothing more than to go back to the Shire.

Boromir is a character who desires the power of the ring but nonetheless is an honorable character. Throughout the course of the story, he makes mistakes and changes as a result.

Aragorn’s initial reluctance to take his rightful place on Gondor’s throne affects who he is as a character. He is noble, and his actions show that he is worthy of being a king even when he doubts himself. His romance with Arwen is also a testament to his worth as a character–she is willing to give up immortality for him.

Most of the other characters are not well-developed, however. The movie suffers slightly from having too many characters.

Camera Tricks

The crew for this movie used various tricks with the camera. For instance, they used fast camera motions to make the battle scenes seem more frenzied. They also made horse riding scenes seem quick through other camera movements. The angle of the camera made it seem like sometimes we were seeing from the character’s point of view, and sometimes we were seeing the action from a perspective outside of any character.

Galadriel Scene

History Reading 06: Graphics. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of… | by  David Mellitt | Medium

This scene looked contrived and overly flashy, looking more like it belonged in a film depiction of a campfire horror story than a Lord of the Rings movie. A minor con, but worth noting.

Conclusion

I must say, the trouble it took to set up was well worth it. The movie is very nearly three hours, clocking in at 178 minutes, but it is a movie in which every second counts and adds to the whole. If you haven’t watched it, you’re missing out!

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Movies

I’m Gonna Spoil This Movie and You’re Gonna Enjoy it

Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale - Wikipedia

Intro

This analysis contains spoilers for Elle: A Modern Cinderella. Continue at your own risk!

So, why bother writing a spoiler-filled analysis of a movie?

There are two possible reasons:

One is that the movie is so good that it deserves analysis for the sake of learning from it. That is not what happened here.

The other possible reason is that there are times in life when one watches a movie so cringy and horrible that one makes fun of it merely to make the whole thing bearable.

This was that kind of movie. Kind of so bad it’s good…but not enough to justify seeing it.

Background

Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale was released in 2010. (Since it is not even that old a movie, it has no excuse for being so bad…)

It is a musical that rightfully is labeled with the genres of Comedy and Drama. However, it is comedic for all the wrong reasons and takes drama to a whole new level.

Analysis

The movie starts with some music and outdated-looking animations. The music is not too bad, but the animations are kind of odd. For instance, cartoon main character is about to kiss a guy when poof! He turns into her arch nemesis Stephanie.

Imagine. You’re about to kiss your crush. You’re going in for the smooch, and then bam! You’re inches away from kissing the person you hate most in the world instead.

Then there is another time when a butterfly lands on her breast and turns into part of her clothes, which was a little uncomfortable. Then it ZOOMS in on the butterfly. I mean, even though this movie is aimed at a teen audience, this is supposed to be a movie kids can watch….it’s kind of weird for the camera to dive into her cartoon bosom, even if it is properly clothed.

Then the actual plot begins. Elle Daniels, a young singer/songwriter, flunks her audition for Berklee, an esteemed music college in Boston. Her uncle, who is technically not her uncle so much as her part-time caretaker for when her parents are travelling the country, tells her that her parent’s plane crashed, resulting in their untimely demise.

Not that one’s demise is ever timely…but this plot device–I mean disaster–was particularly ill-timed, being on the day of the big audition.

It’s the kids movie trope where the parents can barely be present during the movie, either because they are dead, busy, or oblivious (i.e. Frozen, Home Alone, Lilo & Stitch, etc…).

Elle’s uncle decides to tell her this in the middle of her audition, because why not destroy her chance to go to her top college? If he had waited, like, 3 minutes the audition would have been over, but no….it’s not only deaths that are ill-timed in this movie.

Elle blames herself. Now, she isn’t think clearly, but that is somewhat accurate because people often blame themselves for things outside their control. The problem here is not that she blames herself, but that she is inconsistent as a character. She wants to abandon her dream because it “killed” her parents, but then she ambitiously tries to get her songs on the radio, and then in almost the next scene she is back to adamantly saying she can’t be a singer. It comes off as unrealistic.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images
Elle Daniels

Now look at this picture really closely. This is live-action Elle. She looks high schooler age getting ready for college. That’s the magic of the glasses at work. Stay tuned to see her magically age.

Now, back to plot. After informing her of her parents’ deaths, her not-really uncle becomes her actual guardian and she begins to work as an intern for his recording company, Spunn Records. She acts as an assistant for the most obnoxious bubblegum pop trio in the world, Sensation.

Something About A Saturday - Sensation or CHE`NELLE - YouTube

We get to meet Sensation right away, because this Cinderella needs the equivalent of cruel stepsisters. They are laughable at best. Their makeup in the first scene is so poorly done that it looks like I could have done it better (even though I don’t wear makeup.)

They mess up Elle’s name by calling her every E-name that they can think of (Esther, Eleanor, Ellen, etc.). They say “Sensation” in a goofy, over-serious hushed voices. They walk while swinging their hips. I mean, look at the picture above. That is literally how they walk.

They made me wish they had been my childhood bullies because it would have been hilarious.

There are other times that they try to be funny, but it falls flat, such as when one of the girls says:

Does this corset make me look fat? Really? Cuz I had like two M&M’s today.”

Sensation singer

Now that was played for laughs, but if you actually think about it, it’s not a great joke. People with eating disorders probably wouldn’t appreciate that because it’s poking fun at people who are extremely weight-conscious. Of course, I don’t think this movie intended to poke fun at eating disorders, but the message a movie send its audience is important. The message it sends is that this behavior is funny, so you should laugh at it.

Anyway, Elle wants to sing, but her uncle thinks she isn’t ready. Apparently despite being her guardian and knowing her since she was little, he is not aware of the fact that she has talent. Either that, or he does not want her to move on after her parents’ deaths.

He has actual flashbacks to her childhood when he heard her sing, but no, she isn’t ready.

Next we meet Kit, Elle’s best friend, who encourages her to sing anyway.

Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale (2010)
Kit

Elle is not so sure. Because we need more exposition, apparently, Elle says of her relationship with her uncle:

I’m the kid he didn’t ask for, and then has to send to college.”

Elle

Kit has some wild bobbing head movements throughout the movie.

Let’s try a experiment. Pick up your phone. Shake it slowly and repeatedly up and down, side to side. That’s basically the way her head moved the whole time.

She apparently cannot speak without her head moving like a bobblehead. I shall nickname her Miss Bobblehead for the rest of the analysis.

Miss Bobblehead gets such cringy lines as:

It’s like, I get my east wisdom from the east.”

Kit

Not only does that sound super racist, it also is just really dumb. It ruins all the supposed wisdom of her previous comments.

When Elle goes to get the milky coffee, we meet Andy, a guy who takes an awkwardly long time making coffee and acts like Mr. Doodle from Sesame Street.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-9-1024x500.png

This is when Elle accidentally soaks Stephanie with it. Seriously, that’s the coffee up there. It is disgusting. That has to be like, 99% creamer.

It doesn’t look all that accidental even though it was obviously supposed to be. I mean, Elle certainly has the motive to launch a coffee-powered attack against her, and I wouldn’t have been convinced if Elle said it was an accident.

Anywho, Miss Bobblehead and Mr. Doodle like each other, but instead of saying so they use Elle as an intermediary. Elle is not a good intermediary, because she just lies to help Mr. Doodle out, saying,

He said you should drink more coffee.”

Elle

Of course, since he works at the coffeeshop, that means she would see her more often, so it’s kind of just weak flirting made up by Elle to get the two of them together.

Ty Parker, who is played by Sterling Knight, comes in shortly afterwards for an interview.

Picture of Sterling Knight in Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale -  sterling-knight-1312602158.jpg | Sterling knight, Modern cinderella, Knight
Ty Parker

At this point, my suitemate interjects with:

He’s a precious being.”

Of course, that was a good enough comment to include here. She probably meant he is hot, but my brain doesn’t seem to register hotness. Because like, I don’t think of anyone as hot or attractive. But despite that, considering that characters half decent at acting were rare in this movie, I guess that does make him a precious being.

Anyway, Ty wants to try something new, and Elle’s uncle wants him to sing with Kandi Kane, a popular British singer. Ty is not so sure about this, and leaves without making a decision.

Meanwhile, the Sensation singers ask Elle to help them out with recording the next day, and she believes they want her to sing. Instead, they have her hold sweat towels and fetch water.

Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

Afterwards, she tries on a bunch of clothes. She takes off her magic glasses, and voila! It’s like she ages at least ten years.

How old she looks is especially odd considering how she becomes the love interest for Ty Parker not long afterwards. (Like we didn’t see that coming.)

All dressed up now, Elle decides to perform in the studio. Little does she know, Ty Parker is spying on her like a creep…I mean just happens to be watching.

She plays a guitar with no hole in it, which looked odd to me for one that isn’t an electric or bass guitar, but apparently it is possible. The hole in the guitar is meant to help it project sound better, but it’s not technically necessary.

The song is actually not bad, and her voice is really good.

Ty Parker loves her voice and thinks she is Kandi Kane. I don’t know why. This is a movie with computers. If he was going to maybe be singing with Kandi Kane but wasn’t sure, why didn’t he look her up to find out more about her? Or even listened to one of her songs? Then he would no Elle’s voice was not Kandi Kane’s.

Elle does nothing to correct him, instead putting on a British accent and following him around on what’s pretty much a date. This is her dream come true. Ty Parker is her childhood celebrity crush. Ty is rich, so he could take her anywhere, but you know how paparazzi are, so he treats her to street food instead.

If you’ve watched Starstruck, Sterling Knight is basically the same character here but with a different name.

Because we need a reminder that this is a Cinderella story, Elle gets a text from her uncle.

Elle it’s midnight. Where are you?”

Elle’s uncle

She kisses Ty Parker and ditches him. The next day, the studio is in an uproar because Elle unknowingly recorded her own song over Sensation’s when she was practicing. Ty doesn’t notice the problem, and instead says that he will definitely sing with Kandi Kane.

Download Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale (2010) YIFY Torrent for 1080p mp4  movie - yify-torrent
The real Kandi Kane?

His actual first meeting with Kandi Kane goes off very poorly. She’s snarky and has a real attitude. It’s clear that their personalities are not compatible from the beginning. This quote is evidence enough:

Kandi Kane is a force of nature. RrrAW!”

Kandi Kane

I want to start using that. “P. A. Wilson is a force of nature. RrrAW!” It’s perfect for the first time I ever meet someone. “RrrAW!!”

Back at the studio, Stephanie breaks into Elle’s laptop. Any time someone comes by, Stephanie uses pathetic hiding skills to disguise herself. She finds out Elle was the one who recorded over Sensation’s song.

But why would that happen? I thought Elle was an intern there for six months? Does she really have no idea how recording equipment works? Wouldn’t she have to know how it works to record her song.

Moving on…

This is Stephanie’s “I’m being sneaky” face.

See Stephanie in that picture above? No, you don’t. She’s hiding. Shh….

Sensation then joins forces with Kandi Kane (the force of nature) to make plans to humiliate Elle.

Ty Parker insists on getting to sing with the first “Kandi Kane” he met, who he doesn’t realize is Elle because she hides behind a big hat when he walks by. I feel like it would be less suspicious if she just wore glasses without the hat, because reverse-aging 10 years makes you less recognizable anyway.

Ty puts on a radio program with a friend, trying to get Elle to call in.

Then Miss Bobblehead and Mr. Doodle bond over Elle’s conundrum, and end up a couple immediately.

The couple then convince Elle to show up at a party where Ty Parker will be. At the party, she plays her song and Ty Parker recognize it.

Cue Kandi Kane and Sensation. They break into Elle’s room and find all her Ty Parker fan girl junk and set it up like a little shrine. It’s meant to horrify Ty, but he is the Prince so instead he is angry at them and goes after Elle.

So they also end up a couple after a little heart-to-heart chat. Ty also convinces Elle to drop the ridiculous idea that she is to blame for her parents’ deaths.

Unfortunately, Kandi Kane threatens to sue Spunn Records and Ty Parker into oblivion if Ty doesn’t go through with his initial plan to record with Kandi Kane.

She also makes him break up with Elle from one of the shortest relationships ever filmed. Elle is so distressed she attacks her hair with her hand. No, not really, but the acting is so overdone that running her hands through her hair looked a tad overzealous.

Elle at this point has given up on glasses all together. I guess she became resigned to the fact she couldn’t use glasses to make herself look younger forever. Or she just didn’t need glasses. Or she did some off-screen shopping for contacts. Overall message–you’re prettier without glasses.

(As someone who wears glasses, I disapprove.)

Then Miss Bobblehead and Mr. Doodle assume that Kandi Kane is involved, with no evidence whatsoever. After sneaking around in the worst acting of the entire show–think preschoolers playing ninja–they frantically whisper and then kiss for no apparent reason.

Soon after, they break into Kandi Kane’s room and find out she’s really from the Southern United States and her name is actually Brenda Smirkle. Not only does she drop the accent and explain the whole thing to her mother, she also has a laptop with her actual name on it.

Miss Bobblehead records the entire phone conversation and tells Elle’s uncle that Brenda Smirkle is not actually Kandi Kane, which makes the contract between the supposed Kandi Kane and Ty Parker is void.

Elle’s uncle also dismisses Sensation on the spot, probably assuming they are involved, again without evidence. Miss Bobblehead then humiliates Stephanie by pulling her hair off–apparently it was a wig.

That seems unnecessarily cruel, especially since Stephanie is so self-conscious about her wig. I mean, what if she lost her hair due to cancer or something? Kit didn’t even have any evidence that Stephanie was involved in the plot. And even if she did, Kit being one of the “good guys” does not justify her doing horrible things.

Elle doesn’t know all of this because she was on her way to Berklee at the time. Miss Bobblehead, Mr. Doodle, and Elle’s uncle show up to see her audition.

Then–gasp–what a shock! Ty Parker shows up for her audition, she wins the approval of admissions, and they are a couple again.

Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale Images | Icons, Wallpapers and Photos on  Fanpop

Again, the music is actually not bad. It is the only thing this movie did right.

If I had to pin down a moral for this story, it would be that glasses make one unappealing (ouch), and that it’s okay to humiliate people, lie, and break into other people’s rooms if you do it for the right reasons.

But wait! It’s not over!

There are still the characters’ post-movie futures to think about. That’s what credits are for, right? I’ve only included the weirdest ones.

For Miss Bobblehead and Mr. Doodle, there was this little nugget of information:

What the heck is undercover dating? Like a blind date where both involved are secret agents or wanted criminals? And how could they be the most successful private investigator service? Is anyone supposed to buy this?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-18-1024x489.png

Elle’s uncle apparently still doesn’t have time for a girlfriend. It was never established that he didn’t have time for a girlfriend before, but they found the need to point this out as the final word they give about his character.

It seems like something must have been edited out earlier on that would have made this make sense.

Or he was such a flat character they saved all his development for the end.

Then finally, the movie reaches its much-awaited end.

Conclusion

So…that was a bad movie. Thanks to my roommate for making me watch it. I forgive her, because at least it was enjoyable to make fun of the movie afterward.

Don’t watch it. It’s not worth your time. For actually good movies, check out my movie reviews.

Movies

Movie Review: Over the Moon (Spoiler-Free)

Over the Moon (2020) - IMDb

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

The trailer of this movie looked cute and fun enough that I was willing to wake up early on a Saturday to watch it.

Background

This movie is a 2020 Chinese-American musical that fits into the genre of Fantasy. It is a Netflix original family movie made in collaboration with Pearl Studio.

The movie stars Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Margaret Cho, and Sandra Oh.

Summary

A 12-year-old girl named Fei Fei has difficulty coping after the tragic death of her mother. When a new woman comes into her father’s life years later, Fei Fei is not ready to move on or accept this potential stepmother.

Fei Fei used to listen to her mother’s stories about Chang’e. Chang’e from the stories is a loyal woman who waits eternally on the moon for Houyi, her one true love. Fei Fei believes that if she can prove Chang’e is real, her father will remember how much he loved her mother and reject this new woman.

The story is one of a child grieving and moving on after loss.

Pros

  • Relatable characters with strong character arcs
  • Creative use of old Chinese story and some newly created myths
  • Deals realistically with serious topics such as death and grief
  • Unpredictable
  • Songs that add to the narrative and affect the mood
  • Intriguing setting
  • Bright color scheme likely to grab attention of children
  • The food looks appealing
  • Fun for a wide audience

Cons

  • Songs not catchy like Disney songs
  • Alice in Wonderland vibes may be over-the-top for some viewers
  • Transition to Lunaria a bit jarring

Review

Characters

Netflix's 'Over the Moon' is an animated musical from Glen Keane - Insider
Fei Fei

Fei Fei is a 12-year-old girl who loves stories, so much so that when her family disbelieves the story of Chang’e, she embarks on a journey to reach the moon to prove the story is true.

The realistic depiction of grief and the way it has hardened her heart against her potential stepmother and stepbrother gives her depth as a character.

Her development throughout the movie is believable and easy to sympathize or empathize with.

Over the Moon - Din Tai Fung
Chin

Chin is an 8-year-old boy who attempts to befriend Fei Fei. He has a pet frog and believes he has a superpower that lets him break through walls. He is amusing, likeable, and sweet.

Over the Moon' review: Netflix animated film overshoots - Los Angeles Times

Chang’e, when we meet her, is self-absorbed and manipulative. In the past, when she was with Houyi, she was known for her kindness. She is a singer who puts on performances and delights in costume changes.

Mythology

The Moon Goddess Chang E - Unidentified artist, after Tang Yin.jpg
The Moon Goddess Chang’e

The myth of Chang’e is tragic and the entire movie revolves around it. Fei Fei’s mother first tells the story of how Chang’e ascended to the moon after swallowing two pills that grant immortality, one which had been meant for her lover Houyi. There are various reasons given for her swallowing both, whether it was accidental or deliberate, necessary or unnecessary. The consequence is that she ascends to the moon without her lover, where she waits for him.

The movie adds to the myth by including the space dog, which takes a bite of the moon every night, and is said to be the reason the moon has phases. Additionally, in the movie, creatures called Lunettes are created by the tears of Chang’e.

Message

Audrey Wells Picture
Audrey Wells

The story was written by Audrey Wells, who wrote the story as a message to her family. Wells knew she would not live long enough to see the movie in its final form due to cancer, so the movie is about how to move on after the loss of a loved one.

Wells died on October 4, 2018.

Plot

The plot was not very predictable. I made numerous predictions during the movie, and most of them were completely wrong. I appreciate that the movie, even though its primary audience is children and families, was not cliché like many movies aimed at that audience.

The way that the story was told literally made my eyes tear up at parts, which is a testament to how well the message came across.

Songs

Video of the Day: Phillipa Soo's “Ultraluminary” from Netflix's “Over the  Moon” | Krypton Radio
Chang’e, the Moon Goddess

The songs were narrative in nature, helping to tell the story. They were not as catchy as Disney songs, but I still felt that they added depth and appeal to the movie. The best song was probably “Ultraluminary,” sung by Phillipa Soo.

Setting

Final 'Over the Moon' Trailer Enters Lunaria and Introduces a Diva Moon  Goddess | Animation Magazine
Lunaria

Keane’s inspiration from the city of Lunaria came from Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” album cover and the art of Joan Miró.

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon - Experience Version - Amazon.com  Music
The cover of “The Dark Side of the Moon”
“Horse, Pipe, and Red Flower” by Joan Miró

The bright color scheme is likely to appeal to children, and the creative atmosphere is likely to appeal to all ages. Lunaria has orbiting bodies that surround the city like the rings of Saturn. The randomness of the setting contributed to the Alice in Wonderland vibes and the jarring transition. Personally, I can barely stand Alice in Wonderland, but this movie still manages to be thoroughly enjoyable for me.

Food

Over the Moon cast on what an Asian-American animated movie means for them  - Polygon
Over the Moon - Din Tai Fung

The food looked so good during each meal, and the mooncakes were so delicious they made me want to make some myself. I have had mooncakes before at college, and while watching, the superb animation of the food brought back memories of the taste.

Conclusion

This movie will appeal to Disney fans, and is a charming musical for children and families. Even as a college student, I found it fun to watch with my roommate.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links