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Movie Review

The year is 1969, and the U.S. is engaged in a hair-raising space race with the U.S.S.R. Nat, Scooter and I.Q. are three young flies (yes, houseflies) and the only thing hair-raising about their tiny lives is ... nothing. Like so many young humans, they feel left out of the adventures of the bigger folks around them. The fact that they make their home just a few hundred yards from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral only adds to their frustration. Desperate to get in on the orbital action, Nat devises a plan for him and his two buddies to stow away on Apollo 11—the world's first manned mission to land on the moon.

A seasoned adventurer, Nat's Grandpa McFly eggs the young insect-explorers on by repeating the motto, "If it's not an adventure, it's not worth doing." Of course, their mothers are all in the dark about their secret mission, as are the NASA head honchos. As it turns out, the Apollo 11 crew is fortunate to have these tiny stowaways aboard: They fly to the rescue when both internal and external dangers arise and threaten Apollo's voyage.

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Positive Elements

This movie's oft-repeated theme, "If it's not an adventure, it's not worth doing," may be a tad shallow and not exactly true, but within the story, it functions as a positive impetus. By repeating this slogan, Grandpa McFly passes on a part of the family legacy to his grandson, and the young characters in the film are spurred on toward noble acts. Grandpa explicitly says that adventure will build character in the kids' lives. And we see daring, selfless rescues and a no-fly-left-behind ethos.

Family relationships are held in high esteem, as are the friendships of the three young flies. Mother flies are concerned for their sons' safety. Upon their return, all three boys take responsibility for their actions. A chronic overeater, Scooter learns that his dietary habits are hazardous to his health.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

There's a reference to "hotties" and "honey-dipping." A few times, Grandpa McFly is shown kissing his old girlfriend Nadia. (His wife's already passed on.) A song compares holding hands and kissing with flying to the moon.

Violent Content

Flies and humans alike are jostled violently by the Apollo liftoff. Relieved to see Scooter alive after a perilous moment of his own making, Nat exclaims, "You're alive! I should kill you!" Back at Cape Canaveral, Grandpa and one of his friends engage in fisticuffs with Soviet double-agent flies. One Commie pulls a knife and threaten our heroes with torches (lit matches). When Grandpa is sucked into a spinning fan, he escapes and bashes the baddie with a human's lollipop.

Crude or Profane Language

A couple uses each of "butt," "crap" and "darn" (once in conjunction with "gosh"). Name calling includes "fatso" and "idiot." Nat's mother is fond of saying "lord of the flies" (as in, "Oh my lord of the flies!").

Drug and Alcohol Content

Grandpa McFly says that Nadia could really "put away the lager." He begins to tell a story about their heavy-drinking escapades. (He's interrupted after the first phrase.) The punch line of a joke involves flies on a beer can. A fly is swatted by a human and deposited into an ashtray full of cigarette butts.

Other Negative Elements

Scooter belches and passes gas. A fly buzzes into a human's nose and is sneezed out in a puddle of goo.

Conclusion

There's a reason why there's a famous film called Apollo 13, and not one called Apollo 11. Though the first moonwalk was an incomparable moment in U.S. and world history, the voyage itself was relatively uneventful. In choosing that spaceflight as a backdrop for their story, the makers of Fly Me to the Moon took on the challenge of making an adventure movie out of a story surprisingly low on perilous moments.

I wouldn't say they succeeded.

Though the animation and 3-D effects are decent, the story moves slowly, the action seems contrived, and I never managed to feel compelled by the characters and their emotions. The writers aimed for the over-the-kids'-heads type of humor that has made Pixar so successful at engaging multigenerational audiences with its animated features. Unfortunately, they missed their orbit on that one.

On the bright side of the Moon, Fly Me has relatively few content issues for parents to contend with, the most notable of which are some slightly crude and imitable phrases, and a few references to alcohol. So this isn't an out-of-this-world blast off, but at least it's not a perilous cinematic journey.

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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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