I have to note first of all that my screening of Fly Me to the Moon 3D was completely marred by bad projection, which made watching the movie with the 3D glasses on almost unbearable. Images intended to pop out at the audience showed up double, and the varying planes of the film that give it the 3D effect were all mashed together, giving eye strain to anyone who tried to make sense out of which character was where. Seriously, it was all I could do not to walk out entirely.
So Fly Me to the Moon 3D may be an inspiring and hilarious family adventure when seen in proper 3D, but I doubt it. More like a Nickelodeon cartoon than anything intended for the big screen, Fly Me is a lazily made turd that thinks it will be polished by 3D gimmickry. Relying on undiscerning parents—or perhaps napping ones—and kids who are hankering for even more space adventures after Space Chimps and Wall-E, the movie is little more than an excuse to take advantage of the theater’s air conditioning.
The three main characters are typical kid archetypes from varying children’s movies, only this time they’re actually flies who live in a junkyard. There’s the plucky main characters Nat (Trevor Gagnon), who admires his grandpa’s (Christopher Lloyd) war stories, the brainy one IQ (Philip Bolden) and the fat one Scooter (David Gore), who later in the film is actually scolded about the dangers of obesity (oh, how times have changed since Heavyweights). Nat convinces the gang to hitch a ride on the Apollo 11, which is about to launch from nearby Cape Canaveral and put a man on the moon for the first time.
The boys take off into space, the moms (including the voices of Kelly Rip and Nicolette Sheridan) stay home and worry, and somewhere in Russia a group of commie flies plot to derail the shuttle mission to prove some kind of point to those pesky Americans. The Russian subplot results in a fight at mission control that’s actually the most entertaining and dramatic part of the film, but the fact that it makes no sense takes a bit away from the drama.
The jokes in Fly Me consist of things like mom saying “Oh my Lord of the Flies!” and lots of fat jokes and dumb jokes at the expense of Scooter. The sense of adventure conveyed by the moon shot, plus some animation that really does capture a sense of magic about the lunar surface, are rare bright spots in a movie that doesn’t seem to be trying too hard to be anything at all. Not every animated movie has to be Wall-E, but they should aim to be something more than a summer afternoon time-waster.
And just in case you were having too much fun suspending your disbelief that flies could have had a moon adventure too, Buzz Aldrin himself shows up onscreen at the end to remind us that the story never could have happened in real life. I guess it was NASA’s requirement for letting the filmmakers use their logos and whatnot, but it’s a killjoy of the highest order in a movie that doesn’t provide that much joy to begin with. The disclaimer takes Fly Me from just being a lame movie to an overall bad idea—after all, if Buzz Aldrin is on hand to tell you you’re wrong, shouldn’t you just call it a day?