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Moonshot Review
Image: HBO Max

Film

Was the Moon Even Mentioned in Moonshot? Don’t know. Don’t care.

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Moonshot is unremarkable in just about every way…

I was very confused when I watched Moonshot. I watched it on HBO Max, but the vibes feel much more Netflix than HBO. As a romcom aficionado, I’m often sad that the cultural peak for romcoms passed so long ago. Mid-budget romcoms with big box-office numbers, like When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail, aren’t being created anymore. We are firmly in the boring, cheesy low-budget romcoms on the streaming services era. Many of these movies are just plain bad. Interestingly enough (or maybe uninterestingly enough), Moonshot isn’t bad. It just isn’t good either. It just is.

In the near future, Mars is being colonized. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly the rich people who can afford a ticket and the geniuses needed to ensure humanity can survive on the red planet who are doing the colonizing. College student and assistant barista, Walt (Cole Sprouse) wants nothing more than to win a place on a ship to Mars. He thinks Mars will offer him a better life, a future that he can’t seem to find on Earth. Brilliant college student Sophie (Lana Condor) doesn’t have any desire to go to Mars, but her family, friends, and boyfriend are all on the planet.

Moonshot Review
Image: HBO Max

Walt and Sophie’s meet-cute could have been charming, but Walt’s bumbling doesn’t really work. Walt is an affable normie and is endearing, but his trips and stumbles are just too much. Cole Sprouse was raised by Disney to do physical comedy at a young age, so I’m unsure why it doesn’t work here, but it just doesn’t. Sophie is a Type A stick in the mud who wants to save Earth, not find a new place to inhabit. Lana Condor gets a few interesting scenes where she can display her range. Her ability to make me feel for her character in a scene with her boyfriend’s mother makes me excited for Condor’s future considering I did not have any real interest in this movie or its characters by the end.

After Walt sneaks aboard a ship to Mars and Sophie finds him, they are forced to share a bedroom. Sophie unknowingly helped him gain access to the ship so feels like she must help him successfully lie his way through the journey to not get in trouble herself. Sharing a room is always a good tool in the romance arsenal. If you can live with someone in a small space without killing them then it’s true love! Sophie soon finds out that Walt is committing the cardinal sin of following a girl he only met once to another planet. Things start to go off the rails for them from there.

Moonshot Review
Image: HBO Max

Some surrounding characters, like Captain Tarter (Michelle Buteau) are funny. I was pleasantly surprised at the reveal that everybody knew Walt snuck aboard the ship. It makes Michelle Buteau’s earlier line deliveries even more delightful. Thanks to COVID delays it really does feel like she’s everywhere recently and I’m not complaining. Zach Braff’s appearance as an Elon Musk-cum-Jeff Bezos billionaire weirdo is nothing of note. It had the potential to be absurd in a good way but just felt flat.

More writers and creators should look to Rose Matafeo’s television show Starstruck for a contemporary romcom. It’s a show with heartwarming, absurd characters that make the audience feel something care. It also honors and embraces romcom tropes from a place of love for the romcom, rather than these other stories that don’t seem to know how to tell a story about two people falling in love. Moonshot is unremarkable in just about every way. If you watch it, make sure you’re doing something else to occupy you. Or don’t watch it and re-watch When Harry Met Sally or the new season of Starstruck.

  • Leah Wersebe
Written By

Leah is a TV aficionado and a recovering 9-5 office worker. She lives in New York and has traveled to over 25 countries in search of the perfect latte. She loves to be in debt so has degrees from universities in international politics, film, and wildlife conservation. Follow her on Twitter @LDWersebe.

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