HBO Max’s attempt to rival the Netflix mega-success of teen and young adult romcoms, Moonshot, takes no chances starring Gen Z’s Meg Ryan, Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), and technically millennial (but on the down-low) Cole Sprouse of former Disney and current Riverdale fame.
Does this young love story in a not-to-distant future hold up to its genre? And why on EARTH is it called Moonshot when it’s actually about Mars? The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And Is it liberal propaganda?
Conservative Critic Meter Check: Moonshot
Overall Rating: Cute
Moonshot follows the story of two college-aged youths who journey to Mars to meet up with the respective loves of their lives. One is a scientist with plenty of funds to pay her way and another is a charming stowaway. The movie puts a fresh coat of paint on an old standard by creating a well-thought future where humans have successfully colonized Mars but still live happily back home on Earth and plopping two young dreamers in the center of that world.
What’s good about the film is that it explores a sentiment so common amongst the young and takes it to an extraterrestrial level: loneliness. The concept of the film is that these two lonely hearts find themselves so alone on planet Earth, surrounded by people, that they believe they belong on another planet. Who as a teen or in college didn’t feel like they belonged somewhere else? Moonshot makes that concept literal but also somehow quite fun as opposed to melancholy.
Low stakes, the film isn’t sci-fi despite its futuristic world. It’s a classic meeting of boy and girl at odds full of the sweetness and innocence of romance in its least realistic and most interesting form.
What brings it down is that the plot is a little muddled and it doesn’t really go anywhere (except to Mars). Some of the characters seem a little random and it lacked character development to even understand who some of the characters were supposed to be.
But overall it was something new and something cute and definitely worthy of the young adult romcom category which is so rightly beloved.
Spoiler alert: There is no reason that the film is called Moonshot and no one understands it. The movie has nothing to do with the moon so the play on words makes no sense.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Passes the time
For a film about casual space travel it was kinda slow and yet somehow lacking in character development. Thanks to Condor and Sprouse’s absolute professionalism and undying charm, viewers do manage to care about what happens to them and are pretty invested in their journey to meet their respective true loves on Mars. But they mostly walk around a spaceship talking to each other. Perhaps this isn’t a fair criticism since most romcoms are people walking around talking to each other, but something about it lacked any kind of deep interest.
That being said, it’s soft, warm, and pleasant. It’s a perfectly nice way to pass the time and there is nothing wrong with a little quiet disconnected interest.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: Clever and well done
The concept is very clever. To take the literal idea of feeling extraplanetary and conceptualize it into a story is on its own splendid and fresh. But to make it a traditional teen romcom? Really excellent idea.
In execution, it works. The sets and costumes feel plausible for a near future where robots are baristas and humans are their assistants and twenty-something college students are contributing prize-winning physics papers to Mars colonists.
Condor is the queen of romcom and she reigns over Sprouse who is showing his lighter side for the first time since his Disney Suite Life days. They have great chemistry, they have great timing, they have cute faces. There isn’t a lot more to ask for out of a romcom couple.
Zach Braff who has had his share of quirky romcoms (Garden State) is briefly in the film playing the brilliant scientist businessman, Leon Kovi, who ultimately colonized mars. It’s an Elon Musk character clearly but Braff plays it pretty straight and believably instead of cartoonishly and I wish there had been more of him and the character throughout the film.
Altogether, it’s a formula and it didn’t break ground so much as refresh it but it was well done and well thought out.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Not really
The movie spends most of its time on sweet young love and angst but viewers will catch a casual whiff of climate change and corporate greed somewhere between the lines. But for the most part it’s not a political film and there is not much of an agenda.