Fly Me To The Moon Review

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jim Rash, Anna Garcia, Donald Elise Watkins, Noah Robbins, Colin Woodell, Christian Zuber, Nick Dillenburg, Ray Romano, Woody Harrelson

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Director: Greg Berlanti

In Irish Cinemas: Now


In the late 1960s, the United States fiercely competed with the USSR in a high-stakes race to be the first to land a man on the moon. However, the enthusiasm and political support for the mission began to wane following the assassination of President Kennedy and the ongoing conflict in Vietnam, casting doubt on America’s chances of lunar victory. While the eventual outcome is well-known, “Fly Me To The Moon” presents an imaginative and unconventional take on the story. The film suggests that a brilliant marketing expert from New York was pivotal in propelling Apollo 11 to its historic achievement and explores the controversial idea that a fake moon landing was prepared as a contingency plan. What’s intriguing is the seamless blend of historical fact, conspiracy theories, and dramatic fiction, which the film struggles with tonal consistency. Despite the star-studded cast, including Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum, it fails to truly take flight.

Sony’s new film will premiere in cinemas globally on July 12 before its availability on Apple TV+. This follows a similar release strategy to Ridley Scott’s 2023 epic, Napoleon. With an evergreen story and a notable cast, including Woody Harrelson and Ray Romano, the film is poised to attract a diverse audience. Directed by Greg Berlanti, it offers an alternative for viewers seeking options beyond the family-friendly Despicable Me 4 and the adults-only horror film Longlegs. However, given its feel of a cosy, rainy-day TV movie, it is expected to gain a more substantial audience on streaming platforms.


“Fly Me To The Moon” shifts its focus away from celebrating the monumental collective effort that allowed Neil Armstrong to make his historic moon landing in July 1969. Instead, it uses this significant human achievement as the setting for a light-hearted romantic comedy. While this approach has potential, the film falls short due to the lacklustre chemistry between Scarlett Johansson’s dynamic marketing expert, Kelly Jones, and Channing Tatum’s reserved launch director, Cole Davis. However, the potential of their on-screen relationship to ignite and make the romantic aspect of the story more compelling is still there, offering hope for a more engaging experience.


Scarlett Johansson, who also produces the film through her These Pictures banner, shines as Kelly Jones, a dynamic advertising executive making a name for herself on Madison Avenue amidst a male-dominated industry. Brimming with personality and charm, her character frequently employs cunning tactics to secure deals, a recurring theme throughout the film. Kelly’s journey takes an intriguing turn when the enigmatic Moe, played by Woody Harrelson, approaches her. Moe, claiming to work for President Nixon, enlists Kelly to transform the space race into a marketable phenomenon. This plot point is rooted in historical reality, as NASA hired public relations experts in the 1960s to bolster its image. Kelly Jones represents a fictional embodiment of this effort. Adorned in a series of stylish, professional outfits crafted by costume designer Mary Zophres, Kelly is portrayed as intelligent, tenacious, and bursting with energy and ideas. From deals with Tang and Omega watches to strategic media interviews and persuasive tactics to sway sceptical senators, Kelly does whatever it takes to shift public opinion in favour of the space program.


However, Rose Gilroy’s screenplay diverts much of its focus to Kelly’s tumultuous relationship with Cole Davis, a former army pilot played by Channing Tatum. Cole, who despises distractions and deception, finds himself drawn to Kelly. This dynamic steers the film into the familiar territory of a love-hate, opposites-attract romantic comedy. Tatum’s character is burdened with guilt over the real-life Apollo 1 command module fire of 1967, but Johansson’s magnetic presence often overshadows his performance. The film struggles to maintain a consistent tone. At times, it veers into farce, particularly with the scenes involving Jim Rash’s character, Lance Vespertine, a hack director hilariously attempting to film a fake moon landing. Though genuinely funny, these comedic moments clash with the film’s more earnest elements.


Additionally, interactions with Moe introduce darker themes of government-sanctioned deceit and conspiracy, creating a jarring shift in tone. The film carefully affirms that Apollo 11 was a success and that man walked on the moon. One of the film’s more consistent strengths is its meticulous 1960s aesthetic. Production designer Shane Valentino recreates NASA’s Florida base with great detail, with much of the filming taking place in Georgia and critical scenes shot in Cape Canaveral. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski captures the setting in vibrant, optimistic colours. The soundtrack, filled with 1960s hits, includes the titular classic “Fly Me To The Moon,” famously sung by Frank Sinatra in 1964. Despite the film’s many elements, it ultimately feels like a “failure to launch,” unable to blend its varied tones and narratives cohesively.

Overall: 6/10

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