Space Cadet Review
Space Cadet Review

Emma Roberts charms but the film’s silly approach to space makes the “zero stakes” nature extend into all elements of the story.

PLOT: Tiffany “Rex” Simpson has always dreamed of going to space, and her “doctored” application lands her in NASA’s ultra-competitive astronaut training program. Will she get to the cosmos before she blows her cover?

REVIEW: Space is often the setting for epic fantasies or the terror it can provide. But there’s one subgenre that’s been sorely missing over the years: the space comedy. Space has gotten so serious that I miss the days of Harland Williams going to Mars in Rocketman due to a cacophony of errors. And Space Cadet follows in those similar footsteps. Sure, if you bring any logic to the party then you’re going to have a bad time but if you just want a lighthearted romantic comedy, then this may just be for you.

Space Cadet follows Tiffany “Rex” Simpson (Roberts) as she’s working at a bar in Florida. But after her doctored application gets her into the NASA space program, she braces for the consequences. But somehow she just makes it further and further, bonding with other astronaut hopefuls. The stakes are really low at all times. I mean so low that you won’t even think about tension once during the film’s runtime. Even when the space crew is in danger, every character’s reaction to it makes it not a big deal. Space Cadet feels like an old Disney Channel original movie akin to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century or Luck of the Irish. That’s either going to send you running for the hills or at least a little intrigued. Probably depends on your relationship with early 2000s Disney.

Emma Roberts is charismatic as Rex and provides a fun energy. I tend to be down on her performances but this seems right in her wheelhouse. Rex is chaotic good, whose ignorance seems to just be getting her further and further in life. It can be a little frustrating how she just falls into situations with little resistance. Most of the laughs come from Poppy Liu’s Nadine, who steals the show as Rex’s best friend. Gabrielle Union fails to really stand out from the litany of side characters. Meanwhile, Dave Foley makes the most out of his limited screen time and proves why he’s so valuable to any production.

Tom Hopper does a great job acting against type as the dorky science guy, Logan. I know him from more actiony roles so I really got a kick of his buffoonery. There’s a love story set up between Rex and Logan but it feels forced. The actors have chemistry but the story does very little to convince that these characters would fall in love. There’s one scene involving karaoke that works well because it’s got a little bit of ugliness to it. Otherwise, their romantic ties don’t have a very believable A to B. Requiring the viewer to just accept that they’ve somehow found a meaningful connection off-screen versus showing.

Space Cadet is the kind of movie that probably would have really annoyed me prior to 2020. Something about that dumpster fire year made me much more accepting of these low-stakes comedies that are just meant to have a good time. While I was still annoyed by the complete lack of logic present throughout, it’s relatively harmless. There are times when it gets very adult out of nowhere which clashes with the silly tone. So outside of being aimed at women, I’m not sure which age group this is for. Maybe those who want to go to space but don’t actually want anything involving the reality of it?

SPACE CADET IS STREAMING ON PRIME VIDEO ON JULY 4TH, 2024.

And make sure to check out my interviews with Emma Roberts, Poppy Liu, Tom Hopper and director Liz W. Garcia, up later this week!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/space-cadet-review/

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SBS editor