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FLY ME TO THE MOON

I Sony Pictures Canada I July 12, 2024 I 131 mins. I

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TBA%

* As of 7/7/24

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Nick Dillenburg,

Anna Garcia, Jim Rash, Noah Robbins, Colin Woodell, Christian Zuber, Donald Elise Watkins

Directed By: Greg Berlanti

FLY ME TO THE MOON is a sharp, stylish comedy-drama set against the high-stakes backdrop of NASA’s historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Brought in to fix NASA’s public image, sparks fly in all directions as marketing maven Kelly Jones (Johansson) wreaks havoc on launch director Cole Davis’s (Tatum) already difficult task. When the White House deems the mission too important to fail, Jones is directed to stage a fake moon landing as back-up and the countdown truly begins…

REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus - 7/7/24

RATING 4.5 out of 5

Fly Me To The Moon brings an old school Hollywood romantic comedy feeling to this charming film about NASA’s efforts to regain public support leading up to the Apollo 11 launch, resulting in one of the best films of the summer thanks to the sensational pairing of Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum which is out of this world.

 

For generations, we as a race have been fascinated by space and what lies beyond our planet. It has permeated our storytelling, but also driven our need for exploration, leading to events that shaped humanity’s history and created the world we live in today. One such event was the Moon Landing in 1969 when Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he became the first human to walk on the Moon. It comes as no surprise that since then Hollywood has taken a liking to the space race, creating many timeless films about the space race and our exploration of what lies beyond our planet in films such as Apollo 13, Hidden Figures, and First Man. Joining the ranks of these films is Greg Berlanti’s latest film, Fly Me To The Moon, which focuses on NASA’s marketing efforts to win public support for the Apollo missions leading up to the launch of Apollo 11 that took Armstrong to the Moon. Even if there is very little truth within this film, as the writers merely use NASA’s marketing efforts as a jumping off point for the film, the brilliant chemistry between Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in the lead roles creates a truly crowd pleasing summer film that will not only entertain audiences from start to finish, but a film that will remind audiences of the awe inspiring nature of space exploration that continue to capture viewers’ amazement for generations to come.

 

NASA was facing great public disenchantment in the late 1960s with the Vietnam War raging on and the previous failures of the Apollo missions. To combat this, NASA did use their publicity office to win over the American public, but that is the extent of the truth to the story of Fly Me To The Moon. While in real life NASA’s publicity office used their marketing to educate the public on their efforts and transparency, the film instead focuses on brand partnerships to make the space race appear exciting to the American public. The story itself is full of laughter and heart as you watch Cole Davis and Kelly Jones clash over the perspective of the space program in the media, with Richard Nixon’s influence looming over the marketing efforts to ensure that America wins the space race. As this plays out, the relationship between Cole and Kelly naturally blossoms into something tender and enchanting, while the history of NASA and their space program becomes a propelling force to ensure that Apollo 11 is not only a success, but honors all of those who have been involved in the program since its inception. It’s a wonderful mix of romance, comedy, and moments of historical truth, woven together in a story that has something for viewers of all ages and likes. Even knowing from the beginning of the film that Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins will land on the Moon on July 20, 1969, the excitement levels never dip as Kelly and Cole work towards the big launch. Simultaneously as the romantic tension builds between them, as well as the pressure from President Nixon’s forces to ensure that the Moon Landing is an unequivocal success, the film enters one stellar final act as all the different plot threads come together and deliver some light thrills, tons of laughter, and one charming ending that will leave a massive smile on your face.

 

This summer movie season has been marked by outstanding pairings with Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy and Glen Powell and Adria Arjona in Hit Man, and this success is continued with Johansson and Tatum. As a duo, there is competitive rivalry as each of them comes from their own background to ensure that NASA is a success that creates a scrappy narrative that lends for some excellent comedic moments. But from their first meet cute, there is an instant and undeniable romantic tension between them that grows over the course of the film, slowing and under the surface as the two characters begin to see eye to eye. It helps to create some truly touching moments between them that invests the audience in their relationship, ensuring that by the time the story reaches its final act, you are ever hopeful that their characters will fall for each other. The result is truly one of the best movie star pairings in recent memory.

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Individually, Johansson and Tatum are just as strong. Johansson is a spitfire as Kelly, using her keen eye for reading people to talk anyone in the room into getting her way, while hiding from a past that she has been forever running away from. It’s yet another sublime performance from Johansson that mixes charm, sentiment and caring that makes for one of her most delightful performances of her career. Tatum handles the brooding nature of Cole with a delicacy, informing every moment of his work with Cole’s past that haunts him and drives him to perfection and scientific accuracy to ensure that the astronauts land safely on the Moon and return home. Sprinkled throughout are moments of levity and tenderness that reminds audiences why they fell in love with Tatum almost two decades ago now.

 

Johansson and Tatum dominate the film with their spectacular performances, but the supporting cast each has their moments to steal the spotlight. Ray Romano is wonderful as Henry Smalls, one of Cole's NASA coworkers who brings a warmth and splendid comedic energy to the film, as he does with every role he takes on. Woody Harrelson is pitch perfect as Nixon’s spook Moe Berkus, straddling the line between threatening and comical to great effect as only he can do. Anna Garcia lands some stellar laughs as Kelly’s assistant, but it is Jim Rash who is the shining star in the supporting cast as Lance, the director hired for Project Artemis. His comedic timing in his diva moments, wigging out at the conditions he is given to work with, or name calling the actors he is forced to work with without question generate some of the best laughs of the entire film, instantly making the film ten times more fun whenever he is on screen.

 

While the story and performances carry the film, Berlanti has crafted one gorgeous looking film. The cinematography has a warmth to it, using shadows and natural lighting to its advantage to build some striking visuals to help bolster the emotion of the story. The costume and production design effortlessly brings the late 1960s to life on the big screen, while the soundtrack of 1960s standards help to energize the film alongside Daniel Pemberton’s musical score which captures that era of music perfectly. All of this can be attributed back to Berlanti’s vision for the film and his strong direction that not only evokes great performances from his entire cast, but romanticizes NASA and the space race in a film that feels like a classic Hollywood romantic comedy.


In an age of blockbuster cinema dominated by action spectacles and sequels, it's a breath of fresh air to get an old school Hollywood film that mixes comedy, history and romance while being made for all to enjoy, let alone one set against the backdrop of the space race. Greg Berlanti brings rocket fuel to the romantic comedy genre, weaving in NASA’s history to this charming little story, setting his talented cast up to reach the stars in this absolutely crowd pleasing film. With the powerhouse pairing of Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum effortlessly injecting the film with a playful and passionate chemistry, on top of a great screenplay full of touching and laugh out loud moments, Fly Me To The Moon is an out of this world tale that grounds itself in the human stories of its character while being set around one of the biggest events in human history, making for one must see summer movie!

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