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Fly Me to the Moon

(2008) * 1/2 G
85 min. Summit Entertainment, LLC. Director: Ben Stassen. Cast: Edwin E. Aldrin Jr, Christopher Lloyd, Robert Patrick, Nicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry.

/content/films/3186/2.jpgCape Canaveral, 1969. A young fly who dreams of adventure determines to hitch a ride into outer space on Apollo 11. That’s the plot of Fly Me to the Moon, a harmless but excessively bland animated film that, in many theatres, will play in 3D. Only the 3D process helps to dispel the impression that what you’re seeing lacks wit and is completely generic in terms of characters and "humor." But even the 3D was barely enough to hold the interest of the children in the preview screening I attended; one child broke into tears, apparently scared or pained by the screen-popping imagery rather than being delighted.

I wish I could say I felt as strongly as that poor kid, but Fly Me to the Moon sent me slumping ever-deeper into my seat as I pondered a community of flies with unreasonably long lifespans. Of course, these flies also look nothing like flies (imagine how scary that would be); rather, they look like plastic toys. Go figure. Anyway, Nat (Trevor Gagnon) will not be discouraged by his mother (Kelly Ripa), who tries to prepare him for the real world by telling him, "Dreamers get swatted." (Apparently because someone thought it would look cool, Mom is also raising a trio of adopted maggots.) Nat has a kindred spirit in his Grandpa (Christopher Lloyd), whose motto is "If it ain't an adventure, it ain't worth doing!" Nat's two buddies agree to suit up for their secret mission (and where exactly did they get their space suits?), causing the flies at the Kremlin to spring into retaliatory action.

Domonic Paris' script is just embarrassing, especially in the humor department. Sample "joke": fretful Mom swoons out of concern, to which Grandpa replies, "Aah! Women!" Naturally, there are lessons to be learned, principally carpe diem and don't eat compulsively. The animation is also less than stellar. It’s hit and miss, with some cool NASA recreations, but also unrefined body language and expressions. The humans and clothing all look waxy, as they did fifteen years ago. When in doubt, director Ben Stassen strikes up the "Blue Danube Waltz."

The 3D provides the film's only novelties: Apollo 11 maneuvers and weightless sequences (one involving a leaky OJ packet), a nifty scene set inside a test tube, and Amelia Earhart’s snot flying at you. I'm not sure why anyone would want to experience the latter. A better surreal moment, not played for laughs, is when a Russian-accented fly played by Nicollette Sheridan says, “Many flies in my country very angry about moon mission.” And then there's the big finish: a live-action cameo by Colonel Buzz Aldrin, who helpfully explains that what we've just seen is a "scientific impossibility." Thanks, Buzz! Can I go home now?

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