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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Fly Me To The Moon (M) - 132 minutes

Conspiracy theories about the Americans faking the moon landing have been around since … well, when man first landed on the moon. Go figure, huh.

 

So, along comes a movie where a conwoman is paid to orchestrate the moon landing.

 

Fly Me To The Moon is a romantic comedy starring Scarlett Johansson as Kelly Jones, so adept at deception that she could sell snow to the Eskimos.

 

Her opposite number, Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), is straight as a die and serves as launch director for the upcoming Apollo II mission.

 

He was also the man at mission control when fire engulfed Apollo I, killing all three astronauts on board, something that continues to weigh heavily on him.

 

Jones, who found a calling in advertising, is prevailed upon to join NASA when the agency is short of money and lacking government and public support.

 

That is even though JFK has pledged to put an American on the moon during the ‘60s and that the space race with the Russians is in full swing.

 

A mysterious US government operative with a deep understanding of Jones’ less than scrupulous past, Moe Berkus (Woody Harrelson), seeks her out.

 

He engages her as NASA’s new PR head.

 

She first comes face to face with Cole Davis – neither knowing what the other does – at a local diner and it is plain to see both their heads are turned. He says as much.

 

Mind you, when Davis unexpectedly bumps into Jones again and sees first-hand the tactics she employs, he is less than enamoured.

Still, there is no doubting her ability to get things done and win over ever hardheaded politicians, previously against more government spending on NASA.

 

The connection between Davis and Jones grows and the chemistry between them is obvious.

 

Soon their relationship becomes personal.

 

Only the fly in the ointment is two-fold.

 

Firstly, Davis – formerly a crack pilot, who had what it takes to make an excellent astronaut but didn’t get that chance – doesn’t realise how crooked Jones has been.

 

But, more importantly, on the pretense of giving Americans hope, Jones is instructed to fake the moon landing and not tell Davis.

 

So, she is in an invidious situation and doesn’t she know it!

 

There is a lot to like about Fly Me To The Moon, starting with a knockout, look at me, performance from Scarlett Johansson.

 

She plays slippery and sexy with ease and cheek, lighting up the screen every scene she is in … and there are plenty.

 

Channing Tatum makes for a suitably testy counterpoint, whose charisma is unquestionable.

 

In a commanding performance, Woody Harrelson excels as the master manipulator … the string puller with an answer for everything.

 

But the plaudits don’t end there.

 

Jim Rash is a scene stealer as flamboyant creative director Lance Vespertine, whose surly attitude hasn’t exactly been good for his career.

 

He is brought in to orchestrate the fake moon landing from scratch.

 

Ray Romano brings an authentic everyman quality to his portrayal of Davis’ trusted and dedicated right hand man and NASA veteran, Henry Smalls.

 

A pivotal character in the story is Mischief the cat (played by three movies, in fact). He just pops up when and where he likes, usually spooking the heck out of Davis, who thinks a black cat on the base is bad luck.

 

Screenwriter Rose Gilroy has infused the script with patriotism, warmth and good humour.

 

The lightness of touch director Greg Berlanti brings to the fore make it highly engaging and entertaining.

 

Fly Me To The Moon is eye-pleasing Hollywood fare.

 

Rated M, it scores an 8 out of 10.



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