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Originally published Friday, August 15, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

"Fly Me to the Moon": Houston, we have a problem here

"Fly Me to the Moon" is a dreadful, 3-D animated kids film that juxtaposes the Apollo 11 moon landing with a bizarre story about flies. Even the impressive vocal cast can't help: Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry and, incredibly, the real Buzz Aldrin voicing himself.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 0 stars

"Fly Me to the Moon," with the voices of Christopher Lloyd, Buzz Aldrin, Adrienne Barbeau, Tim Curry. Directed by Ben Stassen, from a screenplay by Domonic Paris. 84 minutes. Rated G. Monroe 12, Pacific Place.

Some movies for kids seem as if they're conceived in a drunken stupor. "Fly Me to the Moon" could easily have been concocted at the bottom of a bottle of gin.

Try getting your head around this: "Fly Me to the Moon" is a 3-D animated adventure about the Apollo 11 moon landing, told from the perspective of three flies attempting to fulfill the space-travel dreams of an older fly who once flew up the nose of Amelia Earhart.

Yes, you read that correctly. Does this not sound like a vintage Bob Newhart telephone routine?

One of the film's more appalling moments is the sight of the accomplished and inspirational Earhart — the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic solo — blowing snot all over her plane's instrument panel. What a wonderful image for those kids in the audience who might otherwise have looked up to Earhart for the first time as a historical role model.

But the bad taste doesn't stop there. While "Fly Me to the Moon" goes to great pains to re-create, in some detail, Apollo 11's flight to the lunar surface, the story's weird focus on flies is anything but enlightening. Director Ben Stassen and writer Domonic Paris proffer ancient, egregious stereotypes about America's space-race rivals in the '60s — i.e., the Soviets, albeit in fly form; and they make every female fly a vamp, a ninny or a helpless mom.

Even the impressive vocal cast can't help: Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr. and, incredibly, the real Buzz Aldrin voicing himself. (A live-action Aldrin turns up at the end for the strangest coda in film history.)

By the time suspense is supposedly building over whether one of the stowaway flies aboard Apollo 11 can slip into Aldrin's spacesuit — while Russian flies are trying to sabotage the mission back at NASA — you want to run screaming from the theater. Like a surrealist juxtaposition of re-enacted history and some demented vision of a middle-class fly hell, "Fly Me to the Moon" engenders a kind of amazed dread.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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