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Fly Me To The Moon (Christian Movie Review)

About the Film 

Was the Apollo moon landing faked? Conspiracy theories may abound today, but Fly Me to the Moon reminds us that people have always believed outlandish stories. One narrative that may need to be reevaluated is that “Hollywood doesn’t make original movies anymore.” Like The Fall Guy and Argylle earlier this year, Fly Me to the Moon offers audiences an original romantic comedy/drama that has all the raw material for success. Unfortunately, despite a refreshingly original concept and a few shining moments, the film’s attempted liftoff is ultimately derailed by an uneven tone and several puzzling creative decisions.   

Fly Me to the Moon is a quasi-historical drama about NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing and the famous conspiracy theories orbiting that momentous event.   

For a movie about space exploration, it’s fitting that the film boasts some notable star power. Scarlett Johansson is one of the premiere leading ladies in Hollywood, and she does most of the heavy lifting for this film, infusing energy and charisma into what could easily have been an unsympathetic character. She is joined by Channing Tatum, whose performance is less inspired. It’s not bad as much as it’s boring. Casting a mostly comedic actor to play a strait-laced character is a curious choice that emphasizes Tatum’s acting weaknesses.  

Arguably the most noticeable turbulence in this film’s flightpath is its unclear tone. Fly Me to the Moon offers glimpses of the zany, over-the-top comedy it could have been—particularly with Woody Harrison’s character—but it never commits to that approach. Likewise, much of the film unfolds as family friendly fodder, but other moments—such as a completely unnecessary F-bomb—suggest an unrealized harder edge. Even the personality of Channing Tatum’s character seems to fluctuate from scene to scene. He’s goofy and bumbling one moment, stoic and grumpy the next. Likewise, the budding relationship between Johansson’s and Tatum’s characters may give audiences a sense of whiplash, as the emotional drama from one scene rarely carries over into the next.  

The film is also somewhat bumpy in its depiction of Christianity. Initially, it leans into many of the standard Hollywood tropes, featuring a smarmy, dim-witted, anti-science American senator from Louisiana. During a scene in which the protagonists implore the senator for funding, Tatum’s character delivers an impassioned religious speech in which he quotes Scripture and declares his hope that future space exploration will bring people closer to God. The initial implication is that he is being insincere, leading Johansson’s character to compliment him on the ruse. But it is later revealed that he was, in fact, entirely genuine. Thus, the film provides an unexpectedly positive example of Christianity in a mainstream Hollywood film, while simultaneously furthering negative stereotypes.     

Overall, Fly Me to the Moon is a difficult film to pin down. Its unpredictability is refreshing at times but results in a mostly frustrating experience. There are various hypothetical versions of this movie that could have soared to great heights. But as a collection of assorted—sometimes conflicting—ideas, it feels as though the movie launched prematurely. Too silly for a drama but too serious to work as an oddball comedy, the movie ultimately ends up lost in space.  

On the Surface

For Consideration

Beneath The Surface

Engage The Film

Truth & Lies     

In recent years there has been a growing distrust toward media and news outlets, and that skepticism has led many people to embrace conspiracy theories and other flavors of controlled narratives. The story framework of the faked moon landing provides a suitable vehicle for exploring that tension.     

In the film, Kelly Jones (Johansson) and Cole Davis (Tatum) represent opposite approaches. Jones is an expert marketer who uses lies and manipulation to sell her products. After one elaborate lie, Davis remarks that she lies so frequently that lying has become her default. In contrast, Davis is stubbornly convinced that people deserve to hear the naked truth.   

The juxtaposition of their attitudes is most evident during the scene featuring the religious senator. While Jones puts on a fake southern accent and attempts to lie her way to the man’s financial support, Davis candidly speaks from his heart about their shared religious values, which ultimately proves more successful. He later tells Jones, “Believe it or not, you can win people over simply by being yourself.”   

Near the end of the film, Jones—now repentant of her manipulating schemes—realizes, “The truth is still the truth if no one believes it. A lie is still a lie even if everyone believes it.” You can control the narrative, but you cannot change the truth, and there is power in proclaiming the truth. As Jesus said to his followers, “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).    


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