Fly Me to the Moon” defies expectations, rocketing past rom-com into a stratosphere of clever, chemistry-fueled storytelling. Set against the backdrop of the historic Apollo 11 mission, Greg Berlanti’s film offers a fresh, engaging perspective on a well-trodden historical event, proving that with the right cast and script, even the moon landing can feel new again.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Director: Greg Berlanti

Writers: Rose Gilroy (screenplay), Keenan Flynn and Bill Kirstein (story)

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano

SPOILER WARNING: The following section contains a detailed plot summary of “Fly Me to the Moon”. If you wish to avoid spoilers, please skip to the “What’s Good” section.

Spoiler Summary

Set in 1969, the film follows Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson), a quick-witted PR specialist hired by the government to bolster public support for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. Her path collides with Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), a straight-laced Air Force pilot turned NASA launch director still haunted by the Apollo 1 tragedy.

As Kelly employs increasingly creative (and sometimes dubious) tactics to win over the public and secure crucial funding, she finds herself at odds with the idealistic Cole. Their initial antagonism slowly gives way to attraction, complicated by Kelly’s secret assignment from shadowy government agent Moe Burkus (Woody Harrelson): to prepare a staged moon landing as a contingency plan.

Fly Me to the Moon review
“Fly Me to the Moon” blends romance and space exploration.

The stakes rise as the launch date approaches. Kelly’s deceptions pile up, including hiring actors to portray Cole and engineer Henry Smalls (Ray Romano) for publicity. When Cole discovers the truth, their budding romance is threatened. In a turn of events, Kelly must choose between her career and her growing feelings for Cole, all while the fate of the Apollo 11 mission hangs in the balance.

Ultimately, the film concludes with a blend of historical fact and fictional romance, leaving audiences to ponder the nature of truth, propaganda, and the power of media in shaping national narratives.

What’s Good

Chemistry: Johansson and Tatum ignite the screen with classic screwball energy, their banter and growing attraction forming the heart of the film. Their performances elevate the material, making even the most outlandish plot points feel grounded in genuine emotion.

Clever script: Rose Gilroy’s writing blends history and fiction in unexpected ways, using lesser-known aspects of the Apollo program to create a narrative that feels both familiar and fresh. The dialogue crackles with wit and period-appropriate charm.

Period authenticity: The film’s production design, costumes, and atmosphere capture the look and feel of late 1960s America with impressive detail. From the NASA control rooms to Madison Avenue offices, every frame feels like a window into the past.

Supporting cast: Standout performances from Woody Harrelson as the morally ambiguous government agent and Jim Rash as an over-the-top director add depth and humor to the proceedings. Ray Romano brings a touching sincerity to his role as Henry Smalls.

What’s Bad

Historical liberties: While the film’s fictionalized take on events is part of its charm, some viewers might take issue with how far it strays from established history. The movie walks a fine line between playful reimagining and potential misinformation.

Tonal shifts: The balance between romantic comedy, historical drama, and conspiracy thriller isn’t always smooth. Some scenes jarr against each other, particularly as the stakes rise in the third act.

Length: At 132 minutes, the pacing occasionally lags, particularly in the middle section. A tighter edit might have made for a more consistently engaging experience.


“Fly Me to the Moon” offers a fresh, entertaining take on both romantic comedies and space race narratives. While it takes significant liberties with history, the film’s charm, wit, and star power make for an engaging ride. Berlanti’s direction keeps things moving at a brisk clip, even when the script occasionally falters.

The film’s greatest strength lies in its exploration of how narratives are crafted and sold to the public. By acknowledging the role of marketing and media in the space race, “Fly Me to the Moon” offers a more nuanced view of this pivotal moment in American history than many straightforward historical dramas.

It’s a must-see for fans of period pieces, space exploration enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys watching charismatic leads spar and flirt their way to the stars. While it may not rewrite the history books, “Fly Me to the Moon” certainly makes a case for the enduring power of a well-told story.

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