Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Bring your swatter to ‘Fly Me To The Moon'

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Courtesy of Summit Entertainment
Christopher Lloyd as Grandpa (left) and Kelly Ripa as Nat's Mom (right) watch in horror as Nat and two friends fly to the moon.

Fly Me To the Moon

Rated G. 90 minutes.

Cast: Adrienne Barbeau,

Ed Begley Jr., Kelly Ripa, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry.

Director: Benn Slasson.

Wave has an itty bitty problem, and it comes in the form of flies. In its first animated 3-D feature film "Fly Me to the Moon," the heroes are critters most people swat dead. Sure, the three adventurous boy flies are cute enough. And even the baby maggots, made to look like wormy pink Cabbage Patch babies, are kind of cuddly. Still, as an adult, watching a bunch of maggots wiggle around on the bed sleeping with their old granddad, I was a tad nauseous. But never mind the fly problem, the movie makers did the unforgiveable: It put snazzy technological advances ahead of its story.

"Fly" starts out promisingly enough. With Frank Sinatra singing the movie's title song, the audience is transported through the marshes and wetlands of Florida. It's a wonderful 3-D experience, though soon even this can't help a storyline, which at times, slows to a creep. Three boy flies — one black, one white and one fat — live in a swamp with a view of Cape Canaveral. While staring at the full moon, the fair-skinned Nat dreams of becoming an astronaut. With Nat's granddad retelling stories of his World War II exploits, including saving the day by flying up Amelia Earhart's nose on her historic 20-hour journey to Paris, the film turns into a quasi-history lesson. Gramps unintentionally gives Nat gumption to stow away on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Assumptions and stereotypes from the 1950s, 1960s and even the 21st century abound. Whether fly or human, moms are pearl-wearing housewives. And where are all the daddy flies? Is this a love 'em and leave 'em world? The neighborhood is full of guys buzzing around, yet the boys seem to be fatherless. Maybe I am sensitive, but watching boy flies defined as curious explorers while the gals are interested in wearing micro-minis and dating the rough and tough guy flies isn't exactly the best message. And poor Scooter the fat fly is the target of every possible joke about his girth and eating habits. When it comes to fat, cruelty is A-OK.

The trip to the moon offers an opportunity to visualize the mechanics of space travel and landing on the moon. Movie reps proudly note that actual NASA transcripts were used; while this may be historic, it doesn't necessarily make for interesting, let alone, funny dialogue. At the preview, t'weens seemed to enjoy the show, while little ones squirmed in their seats about halfway through the movie. What with these American and Russian flies so patriotic, I wanted to get out the Black Flag.