Summit Entertainment // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // December 4th, 2008
The Ultimate 3D Adventure!
Ladies and Gentlemen: Presenting the first ever animated movie created for 3D!
It's 1969, and Nat, a young housefly, yearns for a great adventure. Fuelled by the stories of his grandpa, who was instrumental in Amelia Earhart's historic flight across the Atlantic, Nat -- quickly joined by best friends Scooter and I.Q. -- sees his chance, when he learns NASA is sendin a man to the moon.
Sneaking on board the Apollo 11, the three best friends are soon on course for the moon. While their families nervously look on, word of their adventure spreads to Russia and a group of flies that live in the Kremlin. Furious that American flies will be the first to the moon, General Poopchev orders a team of spies to infiltrate NASA and ensure Apollo 11 doesn't make it back to Earth.
Being late to the party once is forgivable; being late to the party twice is just plain dumb. Not only was Fly Me to the Moon trumped with the "critters in space" card by Space Chimps, it was beaten by Journey to the Center of the Earth in the 3D stakes, too.
Luckily for Fly Me to the Moon I'm a generous host, and even latecomers can expect a warm welcome and a fresh canapé. That is, of course, until they proceed to upset the other guests by acting like troglodytes and failing to flush after using the toilet. In the case of Fly Me to the Moon the final straw came when it began resorting to fart gags when its lame jokes failed to amuse the other partygoers, although it had been irritating from the moment it arrived.
The problems started when it quickly became clear Fly Me to the Moon had nothing new to say, yet insisted on saying it anyway. Who cares that it has a grandpa who flew with Amelia Earhart in her historic flight across the Atlantic, especially when the payoff to the story is a lame booger-related gag? Are we supposed to be amused by the antics of the maggot offspring it insisted on bringing along, who do little but burp and fart with gay abandon throughout? Is its portrayal of the Russians as incompetent aggressors, which is only bettered by Rambo III, supposed to have me rolling in the aisles? It's not that there's anything wrong with fart gags, far from it in fact, but if you resort to base humor you better make damn sure it's going to be funny and implemented cleverly, otherwise it comes across as lazy and puerile. No, it's time to get their coat; this one's got to go.
Moving on, and losing the very loose party theme that ran through the previous three paragraphs (what d'you mean you hadn't noticed?), Fly Me to the Moon suffers most from its reliance on a terrible and totally unnecessary subplot involving the Russians attempts to sabotage the Apollo 11 mission. The story itself, which basically has three fly buddies hitch a ride on the Apollo 11, is thin, but contains a nice enough sense of adventure to make a fun flick that might just teach kids something. Unfortunately the filmmakers seem desperate to increase the films running time so throw in the aforementioned subplot. Not every film needs a villain, and Fly Me to the Moon is evidence of that. Personally speaking I'd have been quite happy to see the twaddle involving the Russians cut, and simply have the film focus on the moon landing itself, and the perils that were inherent to it. Adding insult to injury is a bizarre cameo by none other than Buzz Aldrin himself. Do we really need Mr. Aldrin to inform us that the film we've just witnessed is a work of fiction? And there I was thinking that three ingenious flies had gone and made themselves spacesuits...
The main selling point of Fly Me to the Moon is arguably the inclusion of the 3D version of the movie on the disc. Included in the box are two sets of glasses that let youngsters get their first experience with the third dimension, while adults can pretend to be that guy from Biff's gang in Back to the Future. For the most part the 3D is excellent. The image has more pop than the average bowl of Rice Krispies, with plenty of depth. Indeed a number of scenes, including shots of the flies buzzing around the interior of the Apollo 11, seem designed purely to show off the technical achievements of the artists. Unfortunately there are occasions where the 3D fails, with a ghosting effect being evident, resulting in headaches for the viewer. The 2D version is understandably not as impressive, but still hard to knock. Though the lack of 3D only draws more attention to the rather poor animation, colors remain vibrant with excellent detail levels. The 5.1 soundtrack makes superb use of the rear speakers. In fact, should you be watching the 3D version of the film on a big screen, with a decent surround sound system, it would be very easy to let the films technical merits hide its mediocrity.
Education and fun, two uneasy bedfellows, join together on the disc's solitary extra, "The Planetarium Game." Setting questions for youngsters on the stars and solar system, its value may be questionable, but its sentiment should be applauded.
Though the generic storyline does its best to hide it, there's a sweet underbelly to Fly Me to the Moon that makes it almost endearing. The sense of wonderment felt by Nat, I.Q., and Scooter, as well as the human astronauts is palpable. There's an appealing naivety to the film's heroes (particularly when they finally make it to the moon) that quickly reminds us of the adventures children find so readily every day. If only the writers didn't feel the need for that silly subplot involving the Russians (something the IMAX version of the movie apparently jettisoned)...
Too reliant on the 3D, Fly Me to the Moon is a one-trick pony that almost snatches victory from the jaws of defeat with its likeable central trio. Kids might dig the adventure aspect, while adults will at least appreciate its sweet nature, but everyone will find its plot too dull and, even at 85 minutes, too long.
There's pretty much zero replay factor here, apart from to show off the impressive 3D. On the plus side, it's better than Space Chimps, but that's hardly a glowing endorsement, is it?
Get the bug spray; this one's guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Summit Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Interactive Planetarium Game
* Official Site