Associated Press
Three flies (voiced by Trevor Gagnon, Philip Bolden and David Gore) hitch a ride with Apollo astronauts in "Fly Me to the Moon."
FLY ME TO THE MOON — ** — Animated feature starring the voices of Christopher Lloyd, Kelly Ripa and others; shown in the 3-D format; rated G (violence, vulgarity)

"Fly Me to the Moon" is the second animated film this summer to put some cartoon characters, in particular nonhuman life-forms, into space.

The first was "Space Chimps," which wasn't too hot, but at least it had chimps in it. This 3-D feature boasts anthropomorphic insects as its main characters, and they aren't particularly endearing or funny.

So, while technically "Fly Me" is state-of-the-art — it shows how the 3-D format can be used as a storytelling tool instead of a gimmick — the movie falls short in other crucial areas.

For one thing, the relatively short movie feels extremely padded, storywise (ironically, a truncated, 45-minute version is already showing in a few educational facilities around the country, including Salt Lake's Clark Planetarium.)

The movie looks at NASA's late-'60s Apollo 11 moon mission, but from a different perspective.

Three young flies — Nat, I.Q. and Scooter (the voices of Trevor Gagnon, Philip Bolden and David Gore, respectively) — are excited about space travel.

So, they decide to hitch a ride with the Apollo astronauts, who already have enough to worry about as it is. These buzzing bugs are simply one more distraction.

The one "adult" who's not too worried about the boys is Nat's grandfather (voiced by Christopher Lloyd), who claims to have been there for one of Amelia Earhart's daring flights.

Executive producer/director Ben Stassen should have had screenwriter Domonic Paris back for more rewrites. Jokes about the "Back to the Future" movies are too inside and aren't amusing — even when that film's co-star, Lloyd, delivers them.

Frankly, you wonder what this might have been like if Stassen had jettisoned the insect material entirely and instead tried to re-create the Apollo mission in animated form.

"Fly Me to the Moon" is rated G, though it features some animated violent content (brawling and bullying) and vulgar scatological humor (a sight gag and references), as well as some toxic chemicals (bug spray). Running time: 84 minutes.

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