The world of romantic comedies is an expansive one. Since the 1970s, the genre has been at full throttle, and for a time, they were a huge factor at the box office. Sadly, the success of these types of movies has been declining more and more with each passing day, and with the arrival of streaming, it seems the days of romantic comedies making huge money in theaters are long gone.
However, because the genre has been cost-effective to produce since its inception and with streaming services hungry for content to fill up their libraries, it seems like the romantic comedy genre has found its new home. The output of romantic comedies on streaming services is huge, and because there are so many, most of them get lost inside the algorithm. HBO Max is trying to get into the romantic comedy game with Moonshot, a movie expertly designed to attract the attention of rom-com fans all over the world.
Moonshot is directed by Christopher Winterbauer and stars Cole Sprouse, and Lana Condor. The film tells the story of Walt, an assistant barista living in 2049. Walt is disappointed with his life and looks forward to going to Mars to start a new life full of adventure. When he meets Sophie, a genius student who also has her reasons for going to Mars, the two decide to help each other on their journey to the red planet.
First of all, Moonshot is a weird title for a movie that at no point at all mentions the moon in any shape or form. Moonshot is all about Mars, as the planet is being terraformed in order to sustain human life for future generations. It is as if the moon was the subject of fascination for the character in the first draft of the story, but as the story moved from the moon to Mars, they forgot to change the title. With that out of the way, Moonshot is a movie made for the younger generations that have found their romantic comedy fix through streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.
Having Cole Sprouse and Lana Condor as your main actors brings expectations. They are the teenage idols of a whole new generation of teens that have grown up watching Riverdale on the CW and the To All the Boys… series of films on Netflix. Both of them are quite solid when acting in these types of roles, and they bring you exactly what you expect from them.
Which means they are good, very good at working within the worn out formula that rom-coms seem to adhere to no matter what. However, it also feels like both Sprouse and Condor have been doing these roles for a bit too long.
There is sameness and lack of energy to the entire affair. Both Sprouse and Condor are talented performers, but they seem to be trapped inside the roles of eternal teenagers, and at this point in their careers it feels completely fake. Especially when you take their ages into account. Sprouse is already 29 and Condor is 24, they haven’t been teenagers for quite a while.
The moment when their roles finally meet the actors’ respective ages, will be a day for celebration, as it is clear both actors are ready for something beyond these characters and beyond this type of story.
From a story point of view, the movie sticks to the formula and just like in any other movie from the genre you know exactly how this is going to end, there are no surprises or huge twists in Moonshot. The film relies completely on the charm of its protagonists, and gladly they deliver in that aspect.
However, the mixture between science fiction and the romantic comedy genre feels like a wasted opportunity, as the science fiction ideas are there only to serve as window dressing. The science-fiction elements in the film are presented in the most shallow of ways. Which is very sad, as giving more focus on this part of the story could have made the film overall feel unique, instead of just another one from the bunch.
In the end, the science fiction elements might be a detriment to the movie. It is obvious the movie doesn’t have a huge budget and yet, the script demands that sets in the form of a state-of-the-art spaceship need to be built. In consequence, space suits, and other high-tech appliances need to be presented as well, and the production department is just not up to the tasks with their available resources. The result is that everything feels cheap and might break the suspension of disbelief for some people.
The movie is also shot in these weird middle shots and closeups that make it feel somewhat claustrophobic, as if maybe they cannot afford a more expansive image because the sets could not hold it. It’s really strange. The score is just as generic as you expect it, with a couple of songs here and there to enhance the more dramatic moments. It feels dated.
Overall, Moonshot is what it is supposed to be, and that will be enough for the target audience, but for anyone else, it is just another exercise in repetition, if somewhat enjoyable thanks to its leads.