What would make a young adult romantic comedy even better? Put it in…SPACE! That is exactly what HBO Max/Binge’s latest romance offers up in the form of Moonshot. Anchored by young stars Cole Sprouse and Lana Condor, this tells the story of two young people in love with others who hop a trip to Mars to reconnect with their loved ones. Guess what? They fall for each other too! Because it is a young adult romance.
But the question is…does this science fiction journey make this romance worth experiencing? Director Christopher Winterbauer and writer Max Taxe do their best to weave together the romantic elements of this film with the sci-fi ones. First and foremost, Moonshot is 100% a romance (with some sci-fi elements tossed in). The film does explore some artificial intelligence but mostly for comic relief (with the robot who acts as the boss at Sprouse’s Walt’s job). Then you have Zach Braff who shows up towards the end of the film that tries to mix in some bigger themes and sci-fi ideas. Most of them are half-hearted and feel a little shoe-strung. But the romance is fully committed (and the general comedy for that matter). They spend plenty of time setting up Walt’s strange situation as well as Condor’s Sophie who offers up plenty of background when it comes to her own romantic relationship. The film spends plenty of time setting up the budding romance between Walt and Sophie.
Does Winterbauer get to flex his talents bringing this sci-fi tale to life? Not as much as you might think. There are generally enough effects shots which seem to be rendered fine. But most of the narrative focuses on human romance which means that Winterbauer does not have to get too deep in the effects driven elements of the film. In many ways, the film fails to feel like it fully takes place in a different world. Winterbauer is not able to get Moonshot to feel less mundane (but with such a premise, it should not feel ordinary at all). There are enough elements to make it feel like a science fiction, but it never embraces them enough to make this feel like a unique rom com.
When you have big effects, how does the cast keep the audience grounded? Sprouse and Condor are both charismatic enough performers to keep the audience’s attention and keep the narrative going. They have good chemistry, and it does feel natural that they fall for each other over the course of the film (especially when the film spends little time showing their respective true loves). Braff is a fun addition when he finally appears and brings enough charm to make his appearance a memorable one. One of the most fun supporting turns must go to Michelle Buteau who is quite funny.
Does Moonshot do enough to make this rom com stand out in the flooded pool of the genre? The basic and surface level sci-fi elements do just enough to make it feel different. But it never does well enough to feel grander in scale. There are good messages of chasing what makes you happy and a strong central pair making this a fun enough go around. For your rom com fans out there, head on over to HBO Max/BINGE and give this one a stream.