‘Fly Me to the Moon’ Flies in the Face of Conspiracy Theories – Review

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Fly Me to the Moon‘ winks at conspiracy theories regarding the Apollo 11 moon landing, while using moral ambiguity to make for an entertaining summer romance.

Fly Me to the Moon‘, Apple Original Movies’ latest venture, takes viewers on a journey into the ambitious world of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission with a blend of sharp comedy and heartfelt drama. Directed by Greg Berlanti featuring a talented ensemble including Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, and Woody Harrelson, this dramedy offers a modern spin on ‘historical fiction‘, delving into themes of ambition, deception, and the pursuit of greatness.

The screening hosted by the Orange County Film Society in Costa Mesa, CA, to a crowd of cinephiles that were elated by the humor expressed throughout the 2 hour and 11 minute run time.

Johansson shines as Kelly Jones, an ad executive tasked with revitalizing NASA’s public image amid the critical Apollo 11 mission. Johansson’s portrayal of Jones, a charismatic con artist using her feminine charm to navigate a male-dominated era, challenges stereotypes and adds depth to the narrative’s exploration of power dynamics.

Opposite Johansson, Tatum delivers a compelling performance as Cole Davis, a grounded pilot haunted by survivor’s remorse. His portrayal captures the internal struggles of a man torn between duty and personal demons, lending emotional weight to the film’s storyline.

Harrelson injects humor and gravitas into his role as Mo Berkus, the G-man mastermind behind NASA’s Public Relations overhaul. His character navigates political pressures (mostly created by him) and erasing ethical dilemmas with finesse, steering the narrative through twists that touch on controversial theories surrounding the moon landing and subtle critiques of Area 51 while while sharing anti-Republican sentiment as then President Richard Nixon was used as the verbal punching bag.

Supporting performances from Anna Garcia as Ruby and Ray Romano as Henry Smalls provide moments of levity and emotional depth as the moral compass of the blending between PR and NASA, enhancing the film’s ensemble dynamics amidst its tense atmosphere.

While ‘Fly Me to the Moon‘ successfully blends drama and intrigue, it occasionally falters in its portrayal of Kelly Jones’ morally ambiguous actions, which may challenge some viewers. Nonetheless, Johansson’s magnetic presence keeps audiences engaged, anchoring the film in her character’s compelling journey.

Visually, the film dazzles with iconic locations like Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, featuring the majestic Saturn V rocket and historic Vehicle Assembly Building. These settings enrich the cinematic experience, immersing viewers in the awe-inspiring world of space exploration.

Despite its strengths, ‘Fly Me to the Moon‘ isn’t without its flaws. One notable issue arises when Kelly,  involves NASA engineers played by Donald Elise Watkins, an African-American man, and Noah Robbins, a Caucasian man, in a criminal act—robbing a TV store for a part. Her resorting to seductive tactics to secure a police escort back to Kennedy Space Center further complicates her character’s moral ambiguity. These moments may leave some viewers feeling uneasy with a Black man looting an electronics store, even if it is for, ‘a good cause‘.

Fly Me to the Moon‘ is a forgettable fun dramedy disguised as a rom-com, adding a contemporary twist to historical events while offering thought-provoking commentary on ambition and the pursuit of success. With stellar performances and breathtaking visuals, it proves to be a worthy addition to Apple Original Movies’ lineup, leaving audiences reflecting on the enduring quest for human achievement.

Fly Me to the Moon‘ comes to theaters on Friday, July 12, 2024.

The next screening to be hosted by the Orange County Film Society will be a Q&A screening of ‘Skywalkers: A Love Story‘ by director, Jeff Zimbalist on Monday, July 15, 2024.

3

Summary

Fly Me to the Moon‘ is a forgettable fun dramedy disguised as a rom-com, using feminine wiles to seduce government officials in allowing the space program to rise to the occasion.

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