Fly Me to the Moon (2008)

(On DVD, May 2011) As a life-long fan of the American Space Program, I’m amongst the most sympathetic of audiences when comes the time to see a kid’s film about the Apollo 11 moon mission.  Teenage flies going to the moon by sneaking onboard an Apollo capsule?  Well, why not: There are dumber premises out there and some of them are even titled Space Chimps.  In bits and pieces, Fly Me to the Moon works at portraying the adventure of the moon expeditions: The launch and landing sequences are nice pieces of work, a few scenes stop to breathe and play with the premise, the overall atmosphere is reverential, and Buzz Aldrin even pops up at the end to point out that no flies ever really accompanied them to the moon.  Alas, there’s the rest to consider: The scripting of the film is strictly aimed at the kids, with enough questionable plot choices to dull the edge of what could have been an adult-friendly picture.  The humour is dull, the dialogue is weak (while “Oh my Lord of the Flies!” is funny once, it doesn’t work a second time) and the plot threads barely make sense.  My appreciation of the film dropped like a stone the moment it introduced a subplot about Soviet spies: little about it made any sense, and I could have done without the introduction of fisticuffs, national rivalry and even more unanswered questions about why Soviet flies would be interested in bringing down an American mission.  The film does better when it’s about humankind-united exploration than zero-sum cheap nationalism.  (Never mind the blatant “American this, American that” content in a film made in Belgium.)  There’s a lot more to criticize, but all of it leads to the same place: Fly Me to the Moon is, at best, a bargain-basement choice for kids and a mere curiosity for space fans.

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