A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated 3D film only has a couple of mildly perilous scenes -- when Russian flies (one with a menacing eye patch) attack American flies, and when flies are stuck in a sample jar. The language is restricted to mild insults like "stupid" and the oft-repeated "idiot," and there are a few scenes of flies flirting and hugging. Because the film is set in 1969, there are references to the Cold War, with the Russians set up as the clear nemeses of the American astronauts/flies. Young children might be confused about the entire Moscow-set section, since most kids don't understand the political atmosphere of the 1960s.
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What's the story?
In May 1969, daydreaming young house fly Nat (voiced by Trevor Gagnon) and his two pals -- brainy IQ (Philip Bolden) and chubby Scooter (David Gore) -- stow away on the Apollo 11 with NASA astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. Back on Earth, the fly boys' families, led by Nat's daring Grandpa (Christopher Lloyd) -- who accompanied Amelia Earhart on her cross-Atlantic flight -- must fend off menacing Soviet flies from sabotaging the moon mission.
Is it any good?
Although FLY ME TO THE MOON's inventive 3D scenes are well-executed (director Ben Stassen is a 3D specialist), the movie's pacing and plot development are amateurishly flat. There's not much dramatic tension (a key element of most animated adventures), and the main characters, while cute, just don't engage viewers. For some reason, Nat and IQ continuously implore Scooter to go on a diet -- so much so that one sequence seemed like a weight-loss PSA aimed at kids. Unfortunately, preachy anti-obesity speeches don't make for entertaining dialogue.
The most exciting character is Grandpa, who gets back into action when Soviet flies dispatched from the Kremlin (the sight of flies dressed like uniformed Communist operatives is one of the rare laugh-aloud moments) try to disrupt NASA control's communication system. (Yes, you should be prepared to answer questions about the Cold War after the credits.) It's too bad the movie didn't focus on Grandpa's exploits. He's one fly who shouldn't get swatted.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the small flies made a big difference. Parents, if your kids are interested/need plot clarification, explain the history of the space program and explain the central role of the long-standing competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Ask kids how they think things have changed since the '60s. Is space exploration as big a deal as it was back then? Why or why not?
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