RIFF Review: Moon Man
Moon Man is an animated film by Stephan Schesch (or ‘Everyone Who Contributed’ as credited), based on a book by Tomi Ungerer. It tells the story of the man in the moon who decides to catch a ride on a comet and visit Earth. It’s also absolutely wonderful.
Moon Man is a fish out of water, or man out of moon, story that doesn’t feel rote because the Earth presented in it is so fabulously weird. The world feels truly sprung from the mind of a child. We have a doctor who invented everything, got bored and fell asleep for a 100 years. He also lives in an M.C. Escher-esque house and rides around on a yoyo. There are owls that carry flash lights and mount moose. Hippos have glasses, Italians sell gelato to octopi and the president of the world, who’s rather lacking in intelligence, dreams of conquering the moon. The normal laws of physics and logic don’t apply either. The Moon Man himself thus becomes the audiences’ cypher through which they discover the wackiness.
The art style with which all of this is presented is hard to describe, with ‘friendly expressionism’ perhaps being the most fitting term. It’s colorful and filled to the brim with little details. The whole film is completely hand drawn and that great care comes across in viewing it. The animation is, deliberately, jerky at times, which some might find distracting. It’s clearly a conscious choice as other things are completely smooth. All in all, it looks very unique and everything oozes of charm and character.
The script delivers plenty of genuinely funny dialogue, of which there isn’t a whole lot of, on top of all the clever world building and hilariously joyful scenarios. The English language dub is generally quite good with most of the voices fitting their zany characters well.
This is the lonely, bored Moon Man’s journey to discover that he’s truly needed. Every child in the world expects him to watch over them as they sleep, to keep them safe. The viewpoint stays with the Moon Man for most of the film but switches intermittently to a father and daughter on the road for some thematic musings (culminating in the super-meta closing shot). Of course they end up intersecting as the through-line is that the Moon Man touches us all.
Oh, and all of this is set to a mix of psychedelic rock and neo-jazzy sounding music. Delightful, just delightful.
Final Verdict: Moon Man is the cinematic equivalent of a fuzzy, warm hug. Fun for the whole family, without pandering to any age group. It’s about retaining one’s childlike sense of wonder and the nature of friendship. Forget your troubles and ride a comet with the Moon Man.
Keep up with our RIFF coverage here.