January 22, 2009

Fly Me To The Moon (2008)

I'M NOT SURE what exactly prompted me to rent Fly Me To The Moon for Dash and I to watch. I’d seen reviews ranging from so-so to sub-par, but I still had an indescribable soft spot for it. Blame it on a combination of the following:

1) The trailer. Bugs, astronauts, and outer space. A winning combo for a 5-year-old boy, I’d say:

2) With motion picture animation largely dominated by Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, and Blue Sky Studios, I wanted to give somebody else a chance (in this case, nWave Pictures).

3) The title comes from one of my favorite songs by Frank Sinatra:

Set in July 1969 on the eve of Apollo 11’s attempt to put a man on the moon, little winged bug Nat (Trevor Gagnon) dreams of going to the moon himself one day. When he hears about the planned Apollo 11 lunar expedition, he recruits his friends – brainy buddy IQ (Philip Bolden) and portly overeater Scooter (David Gore) – to join him in sneaking on the spaceship to join the crew.

Let me break down this review into several facets...

Design and Animation:
• The settings and scenery in Fly Me To The Moon are impressively designed, as well as the long shots of space and the spaceships.
• The bugs are also well-animated to a large extent, though at times they do look a bit underdeveloped.
• My test for any animated feature is this: If there are human characters, are they animated well? Here’s where Fly Me To The Moon falls flat, literally. The movie’s humans look stiff, hard-edged, and lack any depth to their appearance – it’s like they jumped out of a video game circa 1996. In the era of the mighty animation studios mentioned earlier, this is unacceptable. (It’s also confusing and disheartening that the animators paid so much attention to scenery detail and the bug characters, then let the humans come off looking less evolved than the insects.)

Not to put too much pressure on the kid actors voicing the three main bugs, but their performances were a bit lackluster and flat – unlike, say, The Lion King’s Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) or Finding Nemo’s titular character (Alexander Gould).

Other Observations:
• For a kid’s film, Fly Me To The Moon features an accomplished, sweeping musical score by Ramin Djawadi that fits well with the monumental, majestic scope of space travel and the lunar landing.
• Even though it’s set in an animated kid’s movie, it was still a poignant scene to watch the astronauts set foot on the moon, walk on the terrain, and plant the American flag.
• The running joke of Scooter’s overeating gets old fast. Hey, he’s fat and he eats a lot, get it? In fact, Scooter’s gluttony reaches a point where it almost gets him killed near the end.
• The film digs up dated Russian stereotypes for its villains, a group of commie bug saboteurs. I know, it’s set in 1969, Russians were the bad guys then, fine. It still took some explaining to Dash as to whom these baddies were, since the Cold War ended some 20 years ago.

So, did nWave succeed in their attempt to compete with the aforementioned big boys of motion picture animation? In short, Fly Me To The Moon may have been reaching for the stars, but ultimately failed in its mission.

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).

What did Dash think?
Much like floating in space or walking on the moon, Fly Me To The Moon’s pacing seemed to move in slow motion. Dash even declared “this is a long movie” at the 66-minute mark (the movie’s less than 90 minutes long).

Will your kids like it?
• Dash gave it more of a chance than I did. I thought it was slow before he actually said out loud that it was.
• As with other kid films that can’t create compelling characters or better jokes, Fly Me To The Moon features the requisite burp/booger/poop/fart humor for cheap laughs.
• Speaking of the poop factor, a sticking point for me is that a minor character actually says “crap” twice in this G-rated film when describing a ball of dung.
• Minor cartoon violence alert: The final confrontation features the Russian bugs using fisticuffs and a bit of knife fighting.

Will your FilmMother like it?
I don’t think she would find Fly Me To The Moon very entertaining. She might declare it “passably cute,” but I highly doubt she’ll find it rewarding to watch.

Fly Me To The Moon
* Director: Ben Stassen
* Screenwriter: Domonic Paris
* Stars: Trevor Gagnon, Philip Bolden, David Gore, Nicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Robert Patrick, Kelly Ripa, Adrienne Barbeau
* MPAA Rating: G

Buy this movie for less at Half.com >>


Gemma said...

Sounds like a "yawner." Thanks for the heads up. Kudos to Dash for sticking it out. :)

James said...

Thanks for the heads up. Just cause it is animated doesn'e mean it it good. 'Chicken Little' comes to mind for me. Simply Awful!

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movies said...

Thanks for trailers ! It sounds like great movie. I really enjoyed the trailers and reviews written by you. Hopefully, I will watch this movie very soon...Looking to be great animated film..


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