One small step for a man, one giant leap backward for women
Another in an ever-growing list of movies that will convince you that you too can be a screenwriter, “The Space Between Us” was aimed squarely at the crowd who love to cry over romantic claptrap. But this time it’s sorta set in space.
Here’s the pitch: In the near future, a human boy is born on Mars and raised by astronauts, but cultivates an astro-internet pen-pal with a young lady on Earth. At the age of 16, he travels to Earth to meet her and connect with his long-lost, earth-bound relatives, even though such a trip may literally be the death of him; having been raised on Mars, his heart can’t take our gravity for long. Naturally while reuniting with his family, our two star-crossed young lovers fall for each other and all is well. Pass the Kleenex and count the cash.
Except that the most believable part of this absurd script is that we travel back and forth to Mars on a regular basis with relative ease. The plot is a collection of non-stop coincidences and holes so large you could pilot a shuttle through them. It’s overlong and overwrought; stuffed with at least three misdirects, possibly to counter a trailer that seemed to give away the whole movie. It’s also so tone-deaf to equality for women, I have a tough time believing it’s an accident, especially when written by three guys.
The cast does their best to sell it, though, especially Asa Butterfield who plays Gardner, our adolescent Martian. He gets the few laughs provided by a tedious script when he responds with wonder at the everyday (although he’s also supposed to be a genius who apparently did zero research on Earth before traveling there). Britt Robertson tries unconvincingly to play disillusioned orphan Tulsa, the object of Gardner desire. Gary Oldman pulls off his best Richard Branson, playing private-space program magnate Nathaniel Shepherd. But it’s Carla Gugino who really shines as Kendra, an astronaut who essentially raised Gardener back on Mars. The special effects are also surprisingly good for a movie whose focus is clearly elsewhere.
But none of it can rescue this movie from itself, unless you overlook the poor pacing, rampant improbability, and ingrained sexism in favor of typical boy-meets-girl rubbish.
The Space Between Us
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Writing Credits: Allan Loeb (screenplay), Stewart Schill (story by) and Richard Barton Lewis (story by) & Allan Loeb (story by)
TRT: 120 min
Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality, language, and dubiousness
— Richard Bonaduce