Fly Me to the Moon has nothing to do with song popularised by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, in fact that track never appears in the film. This is a quirky French rom-com which unfortunately emphasises the less appealing aspects of French comedies such as zany, manic behaviour and clichéd resolutions rather than the sharp wit, intellectual propositions and rich cultural awareness of better French comedies.
Told as a dinner party story, the film recounts the strange and often calamitous events surrounding dentist Isabelle’s (Dianne Kruger) romance with a random stranger Jean Yves (Daniel Boon). Fretting over the disastrous record of first marriages in her family, Isabelle, who is about to marry Pierre (Robert Plagnol), decides that, to expunge the first marriage curse, she must wed an unsuspecting dope in another country then quickly divorce him before getting hitched to Pierre. Her scheme hits a major pothole, though, when she develops feelings for the blustering, nerdy travel writer Jean Yves (Boon) whom she has targeted.
This extremely unlikely set-up is really an excuse for Isabelle and Jean Yves to bond over a few vaguely comical adventures. The comedy mostly consists of sight gags, pratfalls and Kruger being dragged into terrifying or undignified situations such as having to eat goat’s eyeballs or being menaced by a lion in Kenya.
Kruger, who is better known for dramatic roles, proves adept at physical comedy even if the scenarios in which she finds herself aren’t particularly funny. She brings not only stunning beauty but depth and nuance to what could have been a flaky character. A real problem for the film, though, is that Daniel Boon’s supposedly sympathetic Jean Yves isn’t particularly likeable. While audiences might feel for him as the victim of Isabelle’s scheme, he’s actually quite tactless and rude as he snaps at people who dare to speak when he’s pontificating into his Dictaphone. It’s actually quite pleasing when, at one point, Kruger gives him the pimp hand.
The supporting cast, who are mostly seen at the dinner party, have little opportunity to establish their characters. The exception is Alice Pol, who plays Corinne, Isabelle’s sister and conspirator in the fake marriage scheme, who shows a flair for screwball comedy. By contrast, Jonathon Coen who plays Corinne’s husband Patrick, irritatingly spends most of the film making silly noises in an attempt to pass himself off as a DJ.
As it follows Isabelle and Jean Yves from France to Kenya to Russia, the film has an appealing international feel and includes some stunning vistas of the Kenyan plains. Unfortunately, it also contains some distractingly poor cgi with the lion that harasses Isabelle and Jean Yves looking less believable than Aslan in the Narnia films.
With a highly questionable story, a dearth of genuinely funny lines and a lack of chemistry between the leads, Fly Me to the Moon lacks the laughs and the charm needed for a successful rom-com.
Nick’s rating: Two stars.
Director(s): Pascal Chaumeil.
Release date: 31st Oct 2013
Running time: 104 mins.
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