REVIEW: Moonshot

 There are some movies were I really feel like I have to battle through them.  Reaching the end feels like a marathon, and that darned runtime cannot pass fast enough.  Getting to the end is a monumental success, as I tell myself that I am a person who can persevere in the face of great torment.  With the recently released Moonshot, I believed myself to be in that level of cinematic tussle.

The movie is about Walt (Cole Sprouse), who is obsessed with getting to Mars.  Set in the future where people are living on the red planet, Walt is a doughy dreamer.  Working as a barista on a college campus, he has applied to a student program to go to Mars.  Thirty seven applications, and thirty seven rejections.  You see, Walt is unremarkable and has literally nothing to add to humanities conquering of its neighbouring planet.  

One night he meets Ginny (Emily Rudd) at a party, and the two hit if off.  Sadly for Walt, Ginny is heading to Mars the next day.  The two keep in contact after she leaves, Walt is in love, and he absolutely must do anything to get to Mars to be with her.  He comes up with a plan to use Sophie (Lana Condor), who is both going to Mars and not a fan of Walt at all.

The problem is that Walt is a liar.  He has his desires, and he seems to have no issue at all using people to get what he wants.  He takes advantage of Sophie to sneak onto the spaceship heading to Mars, and this puts her future in jeopardy.  He is also an idiot.  Instead of laying low, on account of him not being permitted on this voyage, he is out and about on the ship.  He and Sophie tell people he is her boyfriend Calvin (Mason Gooding), who is a very smart person and is actually already on Mars.  Walt seems to have no concept about how his actions are making his goal almost impossible.

Another problem is that everyone on the ship appears to be a select group of morons who shouldn't be worthy of not only going to Mars, but also unequipped to manage a personal checking account.  The captain of the ship, Captain Tarter (Michelle Buteau), is seemingly unable to pick up on him being an imposter even though he is so mediocre he cannot be convincing.  How is everyone on this ship not able to figure out that this idiot is not who he says he is?

As they get closer to Mars, Sophie doesn't want to help him anymore, and I cannot blame her.  Walt is not very likeable, and it is hard to care about him achieving his dreams.  I think that Cole Sprouse is is doing a decent job, as he can't be blamed for the script making Walt an unremarkable idiot.  Lana Condor, who has made her name off of the Netflix film franchise To All The Boys I've Loved Before, is terrific as Sophie.  Her character has some weight to her story, as she is travelling to be with her boyfriend and having to come to terms with needing to alter her life completely just to be with him.

Of course, since this is a romantic comedy, there needs to be a massive falling out between Walt and Sophie.  The interesting thing is that after this happens, we get a reveal that allows Walt's journey to make sense.  All of a sudden, there is understanding of how someone as simple as Walt made it to Mars when he should have been weeded out immediately after the spaceship left Earth.

More importantly, the third act for the film allows for an actual character arc for Walt.  We don't suddenly realize that he actually is smart and competent, and that he his magically now able to help the colonizing of Mars.  What we get is a character coming to terms with who he is and knowing he is flawed.

The last part of Moonshot helped make up for a lot of the issues that I had while watching it.  For myself, it was enough to turn this film from feeling painful to being one I could recommend.  The issue is that I don't think a movie should necessarily be allowed to feel tedious for the majority of the runtime, only to make up for it at the end.  Some people will have a difficult time finding a connection with this film.

Because of the performances of Condor and Sprouse, and the interesting reveal, I'm landing on a recommendation.  Sadly, I don't know how well Moonshot will age for me over time.  There's a good chance that in a month I may be looking back and wondering how I gave it a full three stars, but for now it's one that I feel I can endorse.  If you have HBO Max, or Crave TV here in Canada, it may be worth checking out.

Rating - 3 out of 4 stars