Fly Me to the Moon review – slinky Scarlett Johansson in cynical moon-landing conspiracy comedy

Estimated read time 2 min read

Would you like to watch a goofy romcom about Bill Gates conspiring to implant 5G in millions of Americans’ bodies using the Covid vaccine – but hilariously finding at the last minute he doesn’t need to because they were all getting 5G anyway on their phones? Well, in the absence of all that, how about this relentlessly mediocre and misjudged romcom about how the US government planned to fake the moon landing in case the real one tanked?

Scarlett Johansson plays slinky ad exec Kelly Jones who in the late 60s is sent to put some PR rocket fuel into Nasa’s flagging publicity campaign, using her Madison Avenue tricks to convince wavering public and politicians that showering tax-dollars on the Apollo moon mission is still a good idea. At the same time she falls for the straight-arrow launch director Cole Davis, played by Channing Tatum with a weird proto-combover hairstyle and heavy pancake makeup. But Kelly is bullied by CIA man Moe Berkus (Woody Harrelson) into faking an alternative landing in a makeshift studio (kept secret from Davis) to be used if the real one doesn’t work out – or even if it does work out, because they need the right kind of dramatic pictures.

Peter Hyams invented this idea for his 1978 movie Capricorn One about a bogus Mars landing and then there was a real satirical point, the cynicism and nihilism making generic sense. But here the romance and adventure of the actual Apollo 11 achievement are undermined for a smirking, tonally jarring non-laugh.

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