Lots of movies tell stories of loss, or about the people left behind after a loved one is gone, as they try to cope with that loss. However, Netflix's new animated feature Over the Moon, directed by Disney veteran Glen Keane, may have a more tangible connection to those themes than any movie of its kind, ever. The movie was written by a woman who knew she herself would very likely not live to see the film completed, and wanted to leave the story behind for her family.
Over the Moon was written by Audrey Wells, the screenwriter of The Hate U Give, after she had been diagnosed with cancer. Wells knew she would not see the finished product on the screen, and so, according to director Glen Keane, she specifically wrote Over the Moon, a story about loss and moving on, so that her family would have that final message from her. As Keane tells EW...
[She] wrote it really for her daughter and her husband after she would pass away. The movie was no longer an intellectual, theoretical thing. It was deep and it was real. How many people lost loved ones throughout the making of this film? It's part of what we go through in life. No one is immune to that.
Loss is something that we've all dealt with. It's one of the reasons so many films deal with the topic, as it's one that anybody can relate to. And yet, it's hard to imagine a single film with such a real connection to that theme. The story was written by somebody who knew they were dying, who had something very specific to say about how she wanted her family to move forward. Usually, movies deal with their themes in very general ways in order to be able to relate to the widest possible audience. And while many likely will be able to relate to Over the Moon, it's message is very specific, and all the more emotional.
Animated films have been showing for decades that they're just as good at getting the audience to connect with them as anything in live-action, and Over the Moon director Glen Keane has a history of doing just that. He spent decades working at Walt Disney Animation Studios in the years both before and during the Disney Renaissance. He created many of those characters that fans love and relate to, but Over the Moon marks Keane's directorial debut of an animated feature film.
Based on critical and viewer response, it looks like Over the Moon is resonating the way it was intended to. While the movie at its core might use a lot of elements we've seen before, there's something about this one that is special. Perhaps it's because of the way Audrey Wells connected with her story, a way that not everybody even can.