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Space Cadet review: Emma Roberts' ambition gets thwarted by mediocrity in this flawed flight to space

Space Cadet review: The Emma Roberts-starring Prime Video film is a journey to space, stuck in romantic comedy tropes.

1.5/5rating
Space Cadet review: Emma Roberts' ambition gets thwarted by mediocrity in this flawed flight to space
Space Cadet review

Last Updated: 10.51 AM, Jul 05, 2024

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Space Cadet story:

Even if her life isn't going according to plan, Tiffany "Rex" Simpson's (Emma Roberts) lifelong goal has always been to go to space. She sets her sights high, determined to make a difference, and with the help of her encouraging best friend Nadine (Poppy Liu), her "doctored" application gets her into the highly competitive astronaut training program at NASA. Rex uses her cunning, courage, and resolve to reach the top of her class despite being completely overwhelmed. Can this girl from Florida make it through training and into space before she reveals her true identity? NASA program directors Pam (Gabrielle Union) and Logan (Tom Hopper) undoubtedly took note. Space Cadet is a comedic film by Liz W. Garcia that celebrates the importance of being authentic, chasing one's aspirations, and reaching for the skies.

Space Cadet review:

It takes special efforts to create a film that is merely plausible from the outset, and Space Cadet is a prime example. If the film takes place in a fictional world where magic and the multiverse exist, we can confidently assume that it is a work of fiction. However, Space Cadet does depict the act of leaving the planet, albeit legally and through NASA. While watching Space Cadet, it reminded me entirely of the second half of Zero, where a special program took Shah Rukh Khan's character Bauua Singh to space without being qualified and only to prove a point.

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Here, we have Tiffany Simpson, aka Rex, who is an out-and-out Florida girl and a bartender by profession. However, she always aspired to go into space, thanks to the dream she shared with her mother. However, when her mother fell ill and passed away unexpectedly, her ambition took a backseat. Instead, Rex chose to stay in Florida with her dad, living a life she had never dreamed of. A reunion with her classmates shifts her perspective, revealing that her strong aspirations have left her behind. This leads to her trying her luck to make it to space once again with a special program by NASA. 

Rex unexpectedly gains acceptance into NASA's training program as a result of her best friend Nadine's (Poppy Liu) letter forgeries and the success of her manatee gate. This astounding degree of dimwittedness essentially establishes the tone for the remainder of the film, during which Rex uses her courageous personality and modest grasp of basic mechanics to win over her classmates and her mentor, Logan (Tom Hopper), who, to be honest, appears to be equally dimwitted as she is.

Within minutes, Space Cadet crumbles down, and whatever happens ahead is just cliche and predictable, making everything worse for the film per se.  

To put it mildly, the main character of Space Cadet is a narcissistic and spoiled brat. Rex initially appears to be a bright individual. She completely loses it as Space Cadet progresses; she shows up at NASA in a ruffled crop top, fuzzy shoes, and a bejewelled blouse, and she practically leaps into her boss's arms to greet him. Umm, being a free spirit does not preclude you from maintaining civility in the office and wearing business casual. With the exception of one classmate, she parades around the premises, making obscene noises and waving her peace sign whenever tensions rise. Even Rex's cloying sincerity becomes unforgivable after one careless stunt, and Roberts' one-note, cheery portrayal does little to rehabilitate the character, at least in the eyes of the viewer.

Despite the layers of cliches and weak humour, Space Cadet conveys a positive message about being authentic and pursuing your aspirations. Everyone has unique abilities, and Rex's enthusiasm and creativity could be useful in some way. Similarly, Space Cadet demonstrates that bartending is an occupation that demands intelligence, people skills, and meticulousness; thus, the film is, at its core, an incomplete statement against the undervaluing of the common working class' smartness.

But as a comedy or inspirational story, Space Cadet falls short of its potential, no matter how hard it tries. Rather than achieving its ambitious goals, the film falls into the trap of forgettable, lukewarm romantic comedies, much like its protagonist.

Liz W. Garcia, who also wrote the script, directs Space Cadet. However, the screen adaptation fails to capture the essence of the script, even though the filmmakers appear to have recognised this during the film's production. In Hollywood films, we've witnessed how even a slight hint of federal crime can result in unimaginably horrific outcomes. However, the climax, which depicts a party in space, serves as a stark reminder that creative liberty allows you to portray anything and expect to get away with it.

Emma Roberts in a still from Space Cadet
Emma Roberts in a still from Space Cadet
Space Cadet verdict:

Space Cadet aims high but falls flat, stuck in a sea of clichés. The film stutters in its predictable premise, which is more space debris than an intergalactic adventure.

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