July 11, 2024

SCREEN | Scarlett Johansson Races to 'Fly Me to the Moon'

"You don't face your fears. You ride 'em!"
Scarlett Johansson Channing Tatum Greg Berlanti | Fly Me to the Moon | Apple TV+
Sony Pictures / Apple Original Films
Scarlett Johansson (also a producer) and Channing Tatum star in the highly fictionalized, historically cheeky romantic comedy, Fly Me to the Moon, about the volatile relationship between a marketing executive and NASA launch director during the 1960s space race in their efforts to turn flagging public support in favour of landing a manned mission on the moon.

Directed by seasoned television producer Greg Berlanti, the Apollo 11 mission gets backgrounded as window dressing for a light comedic take around conspiracy theories involving Stanley Kubrick faking the moon landing (see also Operation Avalanche). All this is comically highlighted by fun supporting turns as various mission officials played by the likes of Jim Rash, Ray Romano, and Woody Harrelson.

Scripted by Rose Gilroy (daughter of Dan Gilroy and Rene Russo), there's a strong screwball sense of contemporary gender politics by way of Mad Men's period style and production design to the film's alternate historical timeline in addition to the Madison Avenue advertising tactics at the birth of modern marketing. As you might guess, it sidesteps much of the sixties' racism or sexism from the civil rights movement and second-wave feminism for a glossy nature that often gets bogged down by its overdone plot about con artists, lying, and deceiving the American public.

Much of Fly Me to the Moon's old-fashioned, zippy charm comes from its throwback nature as a period romantic dramedy starring a pair of bonafide movie stars. It's too bad it rests far too much on this charm without enough fleshed-out substance to propel itself forward. It's a modestly pleasing cinematic endeavour as a light but sexy pastiche of its Cold War-era space-themed films.

Fly Me to the Moon will also be available to stream on Apple TV+ at a later date.


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