Fly Me To The Moon Review

Fly Me To The Moon
Marketer extraordinaire Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) is hired to spruce up NASA’s public image before the launch of Apollo 11.

by Iana Murray |
Published on

If there were any suspicion that the Apollo 11 moon landing had been thoroughly exhausted cinematically: think again. For what it’s worth, Greg Berlanti’s breezy space comedy at least offers a fresh revisionist perspective. Here, advertising whizz Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) is plucked from her cushy New York job and tasked with giving the underfunded NASA a much-needed PR boost in the run-up to that fateful mission. But that promising premise is squandered by a knotty plot that makes the film more complicated than it needed to be.

Fly Me To The Moon

There’s a fun workplace romcom somewhere in Fly Me To The Moon. Kelly’s gung-ho approach to public relations comes up against the more practical-minded launch director Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), whose exasperation grows as Kelly wrangles Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins for Omega watch sponsorships and cereal adverts. But not even Cole can deny the power of good marketing, and chemistry inevitably fizzes between the pair. Numerous clichéd pans to the starry skies can’t extinguish the infectious charms of the film’s space-race romance.

Despite the hefty $100 million price-tag, Fly Me To The Moon is replete with uninspiring, flat cinematography.

Strangely, though, this is a film of two awkwardly disparate halves. The first is formulaic but breezy, before pivoting to an inferior second stretch that centres on Kelly being recruited to covertly film a fake moon landing, in case the real mission fails. She’s reluctant but agrees out of necessity. There are vague mentions of Kelly’s shady past, but by keeping the audience in the dark on details, Rose Gilroy’s frustrating screenplay saps Kelly’s high-wire operation of genuine stakes when she’s threatened by her mysterious boss (Woody Harrelson). If there’s anything as tired as straightforward recreations of the 
moon landing, it’s movies about creating a fake moon landing.

When Armstrong finally sets foot on the lunar surface, the sequence itself arrives like an afterthought, as if it’s been so done to death on screen that there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. But as films like First Man have demonstrated, it’s still very possible to infuse tension and wonder to a well-trodden event like Apollo 11. It doesn’t help that it’s so dull to look at, either. Despite the hefty $100 million price-tag, Fly Me To The Moon is replete with uninspiring, flat cinematography that fails to make the most of its ambitious setting.

With a stellar cast, an enticing ’60s setting and rocket-powered stakes, Berlanti's film has all the right parts to make a winning retro romcom, but the result is disjointed and underwhelming. Fly Me To The Moon shoots for the stars but never reaches those soaring heights.

Greg Berlanti’s revisionist comedy offers a fresh take on the Apollo 11 moon landing, but its convoluted conspiracy fails to capitalise on the charms of Johansson and Tatum’s workplace romance.
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