Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Space Cadet: Movie Review

Light on laughs and reality, but it is fun and sweet.
The key to Space Cadet is patience. A movie with a cheesy premise – a Florida party girl joins the NASA astronaut training program after her friend lies on her application – indeed begins with a very immature first half, but eventually moves towards something sweet and funny. Emma Roberts stars as Rex Simpson, a once-promising high school student (with accolades and scholarships to prove it) who put her life on hold to take care of her dying mother.   2024

Directed by: Liz W. Garcia

Screenplay by: Liz W. Garcia

Starring: Emma Roberts, Tom Hopper

Now, 10 years later, her higher education opportunities evaporated so she’s living her best life wrestling alligators, tending bar, and partying on the beach with her pregnant best friend. She looks like the product of a series of bad decisions, but she has learned to take nothing seriously including herself. So her friend convinces her to apply to NASA’s training program to start a human life colony on Mars (when this movie is stupid, it’s very stupid). Many lies later about her education and experience, she’s in Houston.

This movie’s version of NASA is led by two very young and stupid scientists (Tom Hopper and Gabrielle Union) and some stupid scientists (Dave Foley), and Rex joins a group of high-strung Type A personalities all vying for a coveted spot on the International Space Station. Other than a crash course in physics which she quickly masters, Rex is a top candidate because of her people skills. She genuinely likes and encourages her classmates, a trait which none of the hyper-competitive walking stereotypes possess.

Space Cadet is a mix of Legally Blonde and October Sky. A blonde party girl is smarter than people give her credit for, but instead of becoming a lawyer, she becomes an astronaut. The movie tries to highlight the dream of space, but it’s arguably a step too far. Other than one joke about NASA not doing good enough background checks, we’re supposed to celebrate a smart but uneducated girl becoming an astronaut and saving a mission in less than a month.

One notable difference from Legally Blonde is the ex-boyfriend. Here, Toddrick Spencer (Sebastian Yatra) respects Rex and thinks she's smart and helps her succeed, he just doesn’t like her in that way. A refreshing contrast to Warner who never respected Elle and therefore only pretended to like her. The main romance is with Logan (Tom Hopper) but it’s fast and mostly on the backburner. There’s one solid karaoke scene to help build feelings but the rest of the movie is dedicated to her astronaut dream.

It's a movie about achieving your dreams against all odds, and also against reality, and also against laws that try to stop people from committing fraud, so it’s not nearly as inspiring as the movie tries to be. But by the end it is sweet and fun. Not laugh out loud funny but enjoyable nonetheless.