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Movie Review: Fly Me to the Moon

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The animated adventure Fly Me to the Moon pretty much confirms 3-D's status as mere gimmickry. I know filmmakers and critics alike are calling 3-D the wave of the future, but aside from a select few cases I don't know any movie that's actually been enhanced by this technique. Most of the time it's cheap way of masking a poorly written story or script, and nowhere is this more true than with Fly Me to the Moon. It's a film for which the "kids will like it" argument is a thin beef, since I think even children will see through this lame grab at their parents' hard-earned cash.

The year is 1969, and young Nat (Trevor Gagnon) is a little fly with big dreams. Having grown up next door to the Kennedy Space Center, Nat has spent his life wishing he could join the astronauts on their voyages to outer space. One day, inspired by his adventurous grandpa (Christopher Lloyd), Nat goes about fulfilling his dreams once and for all. Accompanied by his best friends, egghead I.Q. (Philip Bolden) and pudgy Scooter (David Gore), our hero decides to hitch a ride with the Apollo 11 crew and be there as mankind takes its first steps on the moon. But their journey isn't all smooth sailing. Not only do glitches threaten to endanger their flight, rival Russian flies attempt to sabotage the mission and maintain their lead in the space race.

Like most kid-oriented features, Fly Me to the Moon is inherently harmless. It only aims to entertain the little ones and leave them with a nice message about following your dreams. This is all well and good, but it's getting to be that too many movies are taking this easy way out, sacrificing quality and originality for the sake of giving kids the same bundle of morals they've seen dozens of times. It's insulting how little effort is put into these films, from the stereotypical characters to the suspicious absence of a real heart. Fly Me to the Moon is the straw that broke the camel's back, for nearly everything about this movie earned my ire in one form or another.

The script is first on the chopping block for it's as sorry an excuse for a piece of writing as there's ever been. I'd hesitate to say it even has jokes, for what the film considers to be humor comprises cringe-worthy puns and even worse characterizations. The worst offender of all is Scooter, who refuses to shut up about eating food for the duration of his part. Don't be surprised to find yourself reaching for the swatter as soon as this little butterball opens his mouth.

You may be asking that with such a rancid and unimaginative script, does the animation redeem Fly Me to the Moon? Yes and no. When it comes to environments, the film is very lush and detailed. It was a real treat to be taken on a tour of such eye-popping settings, from Nat's backyard home to the inner workings of the Apollo 11 shuttle. But for whatever reason, such pleasing visuals didn't carry over to the characters. Not only are the anthropomorphized bugs just flat-out creepy, the humans all look like emotionless mannequins. Kids won't mind, but I can't vouch for the psychological safety of their parents. As far as voice acting goes, Fly Me to the Moon is a mixed bag. The screeching done by the three main kids is enough to shatter your eardrums, but I liked the enthusiastic effort given by Lloyd as Grandpa McFly (har, har). Also relishing his part was Tim Curry, cast as a treacherous Russian fly (I didn't know bugs could be socialist, but I digress).

Fly Me to the Moon would have worked better — perhaps even brilliantly — had it been maybe 20 minutes instead of 84. As is, it stretches the concept way too far and tests a viewer's suspension of disbelief one too many times (which is strange, considering the real Buzz Aldrin's balloon-bursting cameo before the end credits). I'd say Fly Me to the Moon might entertain really little kids, but I'm sure there are a few cynical toddlers out there who will prove me wrong.

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