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Fly Me to the Moon
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by Peter Sobczynski

"On The Bright Side, It Is Only This Week's Second-Worst Sci-Fi Cartoon"
1 stars

Considering that hardly a week goes by these days without a new movie competing for a piece of the all-important family audience, it seems impossible to believe that back when I began my moviegoing life in the 1970’s, such films were few and far between and consisted almost entirely of the occasional Disney film--either a reissue of an animated classic or one of the live-action craptaculars that they began leaning towards in the wake of Walt Disney’s passing--or the even-more-occasional attempts by others to emulate Disney’s success with only trace amounts of the humor, originality or talent involved in even the weakest of their films. Nowadays, however, family films are a hugely important part of the industry, both theatrically and on home video, and as a result, the artistic and aesthetic qualities of such productions has risen to such a point that even the worst of the bunch still come across as far more sophisticated and entertaining than most of the ones produced back then. Of course, if you are nostalgic for the bad old days of family entertainment or if you want to show your kids just how lucky they are by showing them how awful things used to be, you should rush out right now and see the amazingly shoddy and lifeless 3-D animated film “Fly Me to the Moon,” a disgracefully vapid and horrendously ugly work that makes the likes of “Doogal” or “Happily N’Ever After” look like “Pinocchio” and “WALL-E” by comparison.

Set in the summer of 1969 (no Bryan Adams song cue, though this is one of the few times when such a thing might have actually helped matters), “Fly Me to the Moon” focuses on three young houseflies--starry-eyed dreamer Nat (Trevor Gagnon), brainiac I.Q. (Philip Bolden) and morbidly obese food junkie Scooter (David Gore)--who are obsessed with the upcoming Apollo 11 flight to the moon that is launching a few miles down the road at Cape Canaveral. Inspired by Nat’s grandfather (Christopher Lloyd) and his tales of long-ago adventure and derring-do (it turns out that he once save Amelia Earhart’s life by flying up her nose, something that I must admit that I was not expecting to see on a movie screen when I sat down to watch the film), the three decide to sneak into the launch site and stow away on the rocket in order to become the first flies in orbit. They manage to pull this off, they even have little spacesuits that they made for themselves, and before long, they are in orbit. At the same time, villainous Russian fly Yegor (Tim Curry) decides that the only way to salvage his country’s pride is to order mole fly Poopchev (Ed Begley Jr.) to sabotage the mission from within Cape Canaveral. Luckily, it turns out that Grandpa’s long-lost old flame (Nicolette Sheridan) was a Russian agent and she arrives in time to warn him of what is happening, leading to all sorts of wacky slapstick involving Nat’s family going all “Home Alone” on the intruders while he and his friends grapple find themselves having to save the day themselves when a crisis occurs. I know--you want to know why the astronauts don’t just swat them down, right? Well, as one says, “They are American flies, after all!” Hope that explains it for you.

The first thing that anyone going to see “Fly Me to the Moon” is likely to notice right off the bat is how incredibly ugly the entire thing is. For one thing, the characters are all singularly unappealing because no matter how hard you to do it, it is virtually impossible to make houseflies look even remotely cute and cuddly--the filmmakers try to overcome their essential loathsomeness by giving them big eyes and cutesy rounded features but all they do is further underline just how icky they really are. (Don’t even get me started on the allegedly adorable baby maggots who pop up here and there and inspire sensations of squirminess that one usually experiences while watching a David Cronenberg film.) The cheap-jack CGI animation is drab and lifeless to begin with and becomes even more so once you put on the 3-D glasses and everything takes on a grimly grayish sheen. The storyline is painfully uninteresting--little more than a third-rate knockoff of Joe Dante’s wonderful and sadly underrated “Explorers “ featuring disease-ridden insects in the place of Ethan Hawke. The comedy is forced and uninspired (ranging from poop jokes to Nat’s mom repeatedly exclaiming “Oh my Lord of the flies”--get it?), the adventure is singularly unexciting and the sentimental talk about following one’s dreams comes across as especially shallow in a film that seems utterly devoid of such feelings itself. Even as an agreeably silly history lesson that attempts to teach today’s children about the incredible accomplishment of the Apollo 11 moon landing, “Fly Me to the Moon” is a botch--the only memorable aspect of the entire film comes at the very end when the real Buzz Aldrin ambles onto the screen and gruffly tells anyone who has stuck it out to the bitter end that everything that we have seen is a load of crap, there were no flies on the Apollo 11 mission and that anyone thinking otherwise is a fool. Nice job of playing along with the fantasy, Buzz--why didn’t you keep going and remind us that there is no Santa Claus and that a mouse didn’t invent the bifocal while you had the chance.

As for the 3-D aspect, which is pretty much the only real selling point that the film has going for it (unless you consider the presence of Kelly Ripa and Adrienne Barbeau amongst the voice actors as a significant draw), “Fly Me to the Moon” comes up painfully short. Yes, things come off the screen but the visuals are so lackluster that there is no punch or excitement to such moments--everything feels as if it is underwater--and I found myself frequent taking off my glasses in order to let things lighten up a bit. And just in case you are thinking that this is another case of a big, bad cynic not being able to understand what a little kid might like, I would like to point out that the kids sitting around me at the screening that I attended seemed to be singularly bored with the whole thing as well. The funny thing is, I actually chided “Journey to the Center of the Earth” a few weeks ago for having 3-D effects that were almost too perfect--I found myself missing the essential cheesiness of the gimmick and the way that it could never quite deliver on what it had promised back in the day. Well, with “Fly Me to the Moon,” it appears that I got exactly what I asked for and at this point, I would like to offer my most humble and sincere apologies for whatever small part I may have played in inflicting this mess on you, the unsuspecting viewer. All I can do is suggest that if you decide to take your family to a movie this weekend, you should do so with something a little more interesting, entertaining and edifying for the tykes than this mess. Happily, you should be able to do this with virtually any other movie currently playing at your local theater, even if it only has two screens and the other one is showing “Mirrors.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17275&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/15/08 00:00:00
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User Comments

2/23/09 Bethany Cox Oh shut up! It's not that bad. It's predictable, but not terrible! 4 stars
10/20/08 Monster A Go-Go It's pretty sad when the ONLY thing a movie has going for it is 3-D... 2 stars
9/25/08 Bob Dog They're flies, not ants - perhaps the reviewer saw the wrong film 3 stars
8/24/08 George Barksdale Not great but OK. 3 stars
8/16/08 Margeaux Two thumbs down! 2 stars
8/15/08 bruno priani it makes the clone wars look good 1 stars
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  DVD: 02-Dec-2008


  DVD: 02-Dec-2008

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