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Fly Me to the Moon (2024) Review — Johansson and Tatum Star in a Delightful Nostalgic Romance

There is something charming, even enchanting, about Greg Berlanti’s Fly Me to the Moon. For one, the film is set in an era that looks to the stars as the last great exploration with unlimited possibilities. With the help of Shane Valentino’s production design, Lauren Rosenbloom’s art direction, and Mary Zophres’s costume design, Berlanti’s film drops the audience into another time and place.

The other is the relative newcomer Rose Gilroy’s script, an utterly delightful exercise in romantic nostalgia. Along with two lovely performances by Fly Me to the Moon’s leads, Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum (and a scene-stealing comic gem from Community’s Jim Rash), this makes for the type of old-fashioned escapism Hollywood tends to shy away from nowadays.

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures
Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures

Fly Me to the Moon Review and Synopsis

Fly Me to the Moon is set during the 1960s space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. To ensure the United States wins, a black hat named Moe (Woody Harrelson) has a plan. He recruits a brilliant and talented ad executive, Kelly Jones (Academy Award nominee Scarlett Johansson), to help bring attention and, in turn, money and support to the program.

This includes wristwatches, soft drinks, and even official underwear for the astronauts to wear as they race into the heavens. Yes, these methods are unconventional, especially for Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), the NASA director in charge of the Apollo 11 launch. Sparks begin to fly between them, but when Moe asks Kelly to stage a fake backup Moon landing, their connection is tested.

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures
Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures

Fly Me to the Moon is a Delightful Throwback

Greg Berlanti‘s (Love, Simon) has a little bit of everything. It’s Mad Men meets Wag the Dog with a dash of Down with Love (a very underrated movie you should check out). The film is a classic throwback, where the fiercely independent and outgoing female character shakes up a straight-laced male. Of course, he has a haunted past, another classic cliche.

The movie can be lightly funny, even sweet, and constantly engaging. Much of that should be credited to the film’s stars, with Tatum and Johansson showing terrific chemistry. Naturally, when you look like these two, it’s impossible not to spark flames on the screen. However, their romance is old-fashioned and falls into familiar tropes.

You care about the characters so much that it’s barely objectionable. Gilroy’s (The Edge of Sleep) script, working with a story from Keenan Flynn (Just Cause) and Bill Kirstein (Beyoncé Feat. Blue Ivy: Blue), is very clever. Especially in how Johansson and Harrelson’s characters incorporate the conspiracy theory of a “fake” Moon landing in the third act. That is where Rash’s comic gifts come in, though, strangely, Ray Romano has very few comedic lines throughout the picture.

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures
Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures

Is Fly Me to the Moon Worth Watching?

Fly Me to the Moon is worth watching despite the film being a good 15 to 30 minutes too long, with at least two montages that could have been left on the cutting room floor. While the crowd at the early screening enjoyed the glib romantic tension between Tatum and Johansson, which I’ll admit I was not immune to, the jokes tend to be a tad repetitive and do not land as they should.

Still, it’s nearly impossible not to be smitten with it and Gilroy’s script. Yes, Fly Me to the Moon veers away from the decisive events of that period’s decade. For example, the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, and racial divides were rampant throughout the country. However, the light, breezy, and thoroughly charming approach is welcomed here, with a singular focus to delight and inspire.

Frankly, we could use more of that nowadays.

Channing Tatum and Ray Romano in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures
Channing Tatum and Ray Romano in Fly Me to the Moon (2024) | Image via Columbia Pictures

You can watch Fly Me to the Moon only in theaters on July 12th.

7/10

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