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Sloppy 'Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon' means well, but can't compete

Posted August 29

“Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon.” (Deseret Photo)

“SPACE DOGS: ADVENTURE TO THE MOON” — 1 star — Voices of Alicia Silverstone, Ashlee Simpson, Sam Witwer, Kira Buckland, Phil LaMarr; G; in general release

Parents shouldn’t bother with “Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon.” The low-budget sequel to 2010’s “Space Dogs” is rife with problems, and as expensive as it is to get the kids into a theater these days, your money would be better spent elsewhere.

The story is set obliquely in the time of the space race between the United States and the USSR. A mysterious green ray, emanating from the moon, is stealing national landmarks like The Statue of Liberty and Big Ben. So the USSR sends a German Shepherd named Kazbek (voiced by Sam Witwer) to the moon to investigate. Soon after, the U.S. launches its own mission, led by a chimpanzee named Chip (Lombardo Boyar).

Unbeknownst to Chip, Kazbek’s son Pushok (Kira Buckland) — who has been staying as a guest at the White House — has been tricked by some jealous White House pets into stowing away on the rocket.

Both the U.S. and Soviet missions are eventually joined by Pushok’s mother Belka (Alicia Silverstone) and her sidekick Strelka (Ashlee Simpson), the titular Space Dog heroes of the first film who are sent to the moon by the Soviets after Kazbek loses contact.

The idea is to get everyone to the Moon, where they will confront the alien behind all the problems. But the first half of the film feels like a screenwriter trying to cram half a dozen round pegs into a single square hole. Yet the haphazard story is only the beginning of “Adventure to the Moon’s” problems.

We never really know how this world works. Are the animals in charge, or are the humans? We see humans running launch control panels, but the guy running the show for the USSR seems to be a cat with a monocle named Freud.

Freud speaks with a British accent, which leads us to our next point. “Adventure to the Moon” was originally produced in Russian, and has now been overdubbed in English (the English version is credited to director Mike Disa). But even though half the characters in the film are supposed to be Russian, none of their overdubs have Russian accents. They all sound American. Yet there are two different characters that have French accents and Chip has a Southern accent. One Russian character — a rat named Lenny (Phil LaMarr) — actually sounds like he’s from New York.

The most obvious problem with “Adventure to the Moon” is its primitive animation. The quality is frequently rough and at a level usually found on straight-to-DVD releases. A piece of creative animation included in a late musical interlude might be more impressive if the sudden introduction of a late musical interlude wasn’t so jarring.

“Adventure to the Moon” certainly means well, and picking on a film so out of its league seems unfair, save for one point: theaters will charge you just as much to see “Adventure to the Moon” as they will for “Zootopia,” “Jungle Book,” and the superior “Kubo and the Two Strings.” For that reason alone, parents should be directed elsewhere.

“Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon” is rated G; running time: 74 minutes.

Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photographer who appeared weekly on "The KJZZ Movie Show" from 2013 to 2016. He also teaches English composition for Salt Lake Community College. Find him online at facebook.com/joshterryreviews.

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