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'Space Cadet' Review: Shoots For the Moon But Doesn't Quite Make a Safe Landing

By Becca Johnson July 3, 2024
Space Cadet

Directed by Liz W. Garcia who gave audiences The Lifeguard (2013) and One Percent More Humid (2017), Space Cadet is the newest straight-to-streaming rom-com fare, this time hitting our small screens on Prime Video.

Space Cadet boasts a charming cast including Emma Roberts (We’re the Millers), Tom Hopper (Terminator: Dark Fate) and the great Gabrielle Union (10 Things I Hate About You), telling a story about the importance of chasing your dreams. Whilst it’s a little shaky in visuals, character development and its depiction of science, Space Cadet is a fun enough watch reminiscent of an early 2000’s girls night in. The performances are good, the plot is easy to digest and the summer vibes are fitting.


A Florida party girl turns out to be the only hope for the NASA space program after a fluke puts her in training with other candidates who may have better resumes, but don't have her smarts, heart and moxie.


Emma Roberts is no stranger to the rom-com genre (in fact, that’s all we really see her in these days), so it’s expected that she’ll deliver what’s needed. Playing an unapologetically Floridian girl next door who feels as though she hasn’t achieved anything with her life, she’s cute and charming and creates an enjoyable character in ‘Rex’. At times the writing is a little too try-hard in efforts to make her quirky, but she carries it well enough. Starring opposite as love interest Logan is Tom Hopper, who naturally emits the suave, cool and clever nature of his character. The pairs attraction isn’t instant, and despite him often questioning Rex’s application and talents, they seem to bring out the hidden parts of each other which makes their relationship blossom. Rex wants someone who will appreciate her cleverness and help her grow, whereas Logan looks for someone to bring him out of his shell and inject more fun into his life.

Space Cadet

Gabrielle Union unfortunately doesn’t get much screen-time, yet she impresses regardless and brings a natural breath of fresh air as NASA Director Pam. The rest of the supporting cast making up those who are chosen for the astronaut training program are good enough - it’s the writing that lets them down. Not very interested in developing their characters outside of their ‘nerdiness’, they feel very tropey and stereotypical in their hobbies, interests and personalities. It doesn’t celebrate their smarts as much as it believes it does.

The writing isn’t only disappointing where the characters are concerned, but in the dialogue and storyline, too. The romance is severely underwritten, and though it’s obvious that Roberts and Hopper have chemistry, we don’t get to see enough of them together, especially whilst developing that special bond.

The team behind the movie likely don’t know much about NASA or science and it shows. Whilst the best elements of the movie showcase the arduous training program they have to go through before being allowed into space, it’s not really rooted in believability. Whilst the movie certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, and as the audience we aren’t expected to either, it asks to suspend a lot of disbelief in many areas, which some viewers may not be able to hack. From Rex getting into the program in the first place to our characters being allowed to head to space within a mere year, this lack of realistic beats prevent it from feeling grounded. The comedy is hit or miss, and will depend on the viewer as to whether it works. Space Cadet undeniably has a few genuine laughs in here, but it relies on its quirkiness too heavily which soon becomes tiresome. The actors are above the dialogue they’re delivering, which is occasionally quippy but often bland and predictable. The one area in which it hits the nail on the head is the overall message - watching a lead character chase her dreams once she’s a little older is inspiring. It certainly has something to say regarding reaching for the stars.

Space Cadet

Space Cadet is full of colour and life, which certainly increases its fun factor. From the Florida beach bars to NASA itself, there are plenty of intriguing settings that are easy on the eye and nicely designed. Rex herself is a bubbly character full of energy, wearing clothing adorned with bright colours and inspirational motifs. She has a wicked sense of humour and it’s hard not to smile when she’s on screen. With the sun beaming down in every shot, Space Cadet becomes a perfect watch during the summer months. What hinders the otherwise enjoyable visuals is unfortunately the CGI, that looks terrible when the movie ventures outside of standard locations. The use of green screen is cringe-inducingly blatant, and the sequences set in space are some of the worst we’ve seen put to screen. At a push, this occasionally adds to the charm as this isn’t really concerned with its cinematography or technical aspects, but that doesn’t give it a free pass.

Space Cadet has a few stand-out scenes that ultimately make it worth the watch, and it certainly has fun with its offbeat premise. The cast are good, the astronaut training program setting is certainly unique and there are some laughs to be had. The writing is what lets it down, as it lacks character development, believability and doesn’t care to explore the themes that it only hints at including grief. The overall message about chasing your dreams can only take it so far - it shoots for the moon, but doesn’t quite make a safe landing.

Star Rating

Rating Space Cadet

Space Cadet releases on Prime Video July 4


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