Thursday, July 11, 2024

Fly Me to the Moon

NASA might seem an unusual spot for a romcom, but Fly Me to the Moon soars on the wit of its script and the charm of its stars Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum. Is it a great film? No, but it's a damn sight better than your average romantic comedy and certainly better than I was expecting. Johansson stars as Kelly Jones, a New York marketing expert brought it to make NASA sexy again and help sell both the public and Congress on Apollo 11's trip to the moon. Concerned with the safety of the astronauts and the aura of the program, Cole Davis (Tatum) immediately butts heads with Kelly's approach (despite the obvious attraction between the pair).

The first-half of the movie centers around Kelly earning some grudging respect from Cole and NASA bringing in money and eyeballs to the space program. While the script is a complete fabrication, there is some truth to the method behind Kelly's madness and how marketing and advertising can be used to change public opinion.

In the second-half of the film, Kelly's shadowy boss (Woody Harrelson) who installed her in the program over NASA objections, orders her to create a staged moon landing in order for President Nixon to have options in case anything goes wrong with the mission in space. One way or another, Americans are going to see astronauts walking on the moon. Having finally found a spot where her talents can be put to use for good, Kelly struggles with the orders but moves forward with a demanding director (Jim Rash) to produce a faked moon landing. The existence and potential use of this footage creates the challenge and conflict to be resolved during the final act which carries through until the end.

The smart dialogue from Rose Gilroy's script coupled with Cole's reactions to Kelly's various antics sell the film which is bolstered by a great cast. Rash is having a ball here but he's pushed by both Ray Romano as the NASA lifer and Anna Garcia as Kelly's longtime assistant for the best supporting performance. The look and setting of the film, late 60s NASA, also help sell the fantasy on display. And the movie doesn't skimp on rockets or production design, allowing it to feel like a major theatrical release. In a lackluster summer, Fly Me to the Moon is a genuinely enjoyable time at the movies. My only real complaint with the director Greg Berlanti's film is some might take it as acknowledgement of an actual fake moon landing (and we don't need to give conspiracy theorists any more ammunition).

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Fly Me to the Moon
  • IMDb: link

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