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Like a defective toy, the Russian-made animated tale "Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon" is something that should be kept away from children for their own good.
Set during the space race of the early 1960s, the story centers on puppy Pushak (voiced by Kira Buckland), the son of Soviet space dogs Belka (voiced by Alicia Silverstone) and Kasbek (voiced by Sam Witwer), as he is sent to the White House as part of a peace exchange. When an alien beam from the moon starts transporting major landmarks to the lunar surface, both the Soviets and the Americans think the other side is responsible. The Soviets send Kasbek to investigate, while Pushak stows away on an American rocket, piloted by an arrogant chimp, also heading to the moon. How this relates to Belka's new life, touring in a vaudeville act with her sister Strelka (voiced by Ashlee Simpson), is never adequately explained, but neither is anything else in this sketchy story.
The English-language adaptation, directed by animation veteran Mike Disa, is chock full of strained one-liners, but the only laughs come from the unintentional humor, like the fact that Kasbek's lunar rover looks remarkably like a toilet seat. Come to think of it, that's an apt symbol for a movie that should be flushed from the audience's collective memory.
'Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon'
Opening Friday, Aug. 26, at area theaters; rated G; 75 minutes.