Fly Me To The Moon struggles on launch but eventually sticks the landing

‘The truth is still the truth, even if nobody believes it. “

The latest rom-com from director Greg Berlanti attempts to romanticise the moon landing in 1969 with two charismatic leads who don’t seem to fit that well together. It’s the classic Hollywood story of serious grumpy man vs strong headed, organise everything girl that has a certain charm to it. While this works well with the right actors, the chemistry between Scarlett Johanson and Channing Tatum doesn’t fit too well here. This is not helped by the strange editing and middling scene transitions that cause the film to suffer from heavy bloat in the middle. It’s not all bad, the costumes, soundtrack, score and visuals are captivating, and the wealth of talent in the supporting actor space keep this on track. 

Set inside NASA in 1969, the United States of America is ravaged by the Vietnam War and the race to beat the Russians to put a man on the moon. Led by the launch director Cole Davis (Tatum) is at risk of having his funding slashed, delaying the launch as the focus on the war and other natural disasters in the country have shifted the spotlight from them. To help counter this, an agent who works for the President, Moe (Woody Harrelson) enlists the help of con-artist turned marketing powerhouse Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson). 

Knowledge of history is not required to follow the story, however it will enhance your viewing experience as there is plenty of winks and nods to some of the real life events that happened at the time. This film’s particular event it wants to focus on is the film set that was constructed to replicate the moon landing, if for whatever reason it didn’t relay back properly. This definitely stands as a major plot point, regrettably it does feel a little sidelined as the film tries to shoehorn in several other stories, at times it is hard to know exactly what the focus of the story here is, is it the launch? Is it Kelly’s career and constant looking over her shoulder? Is it the senators Kelly and Cole need to convince to side with them and not pull their funding? The issue here is that not enough time is spent in each moment for it to breathe and feel part of a cohesive film. 

The beauty of this movie comes from the supporting players. Harrelson plays a Presidential cowboy agent, who can easily manipulate anyone around him to get what he wants. He also does some solid voiceover work in the opening credits of the film. Anna Garcia plays Kelly’s assistant with some pretty strong political views that make her opposed to working for Richard Nixon in this era. Ray Romano gets some decent air time as Henry Smalls, providing a lot of comic relief and a beautiful family scene at the end of the film. By far the best performance in this film comes from Jim Rash, who plays the most obnoxious, artistic movie director Lance Vespertine. The incredibly over the top performance are all inserted with Rash’s hilarious brand of humour that brought the majority of the laughs. His one-liners alone are worth watching the movie for. 

A strong focus of the visuals is the clothing of each person which are reflective of this time. Kelly Jones in particular gets to really show off some of this fashion with Jackie Kenedy, Bridgette Bardot and Mary Quant acting as clear inspirations here. Rather than throwing Tatum’s Cole Davis in a shirt and tie in each scene, he does go a little more casual at the office with various knitwear tops and a really peculiar haircut that is extremely distracting everytime the camera showcases a jagged edge in the cut. The shots of the launching rockets and moon landing look spectacular on the big screen and are fitting of the time period. There are also some great crowd and car shots of swarms of locals who flooded the streets to watch the launch of Apollo 11. It really gives a sense of the spectacle that this became and the effect that TV events were having on the American public at that time. 

Fly Me To The Moon does take the real life events and gives them a romanticised lens. The array of different subplots that are shoehorned into this movie don’t always work, however the charm of the cast, some great performances and effects help transport us back to this time in American history comfortably. Tatum and Johansson don’t have too much chemistry here, Johansson does most of the heavy lifting and her character is the most endearing out of the two leads. This movie’s primary focus is on an escapist fantasy rather than a depiction of true events. It makes sense why this was given a cinematic release, the rocket launches, sweeping sky shots and those from the inside of a plane, truly look breathtaking on the big screen and do enough to counteract things that don’t work in this movie. 

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‘The truth is still the truth, even if nobody believes it. “ The latest rom-com from director Greg Berlanti attempts to romanticise the moon landing in 1969 with two charismatic leads who don’t seem to fit that well together. It’s the classic Hollywood story of...Fly Me To The Moon struggles on launch but eventually sticks the landing