Fly Me to the Moon

Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) enters a Manhattan board rim to pitch a marketing
presentation for the new Ford Mustang to a group of very sexist car executives. They want to
immediately dismiss her, but her charm, her wit, and her formidable skill quickly wins them
over. It establishes her character as a master manipulator who will say and do anything
required to achieve what she wants.

Meanwhile, In Cape Canaveral, Florida, Apollo mission commander Cole Davis (Channing
Tatum) is under incredible pressure to fulfill the promise President John F. Kennedy’s 1961
promise to put an American on the moon before the end of the decade. Congress has slashed
his budget due to the Vietnam war and the American public believing that America is wasting
tax dollars on a space race instead of focusing on her citizens. Add in the horrible tragedy of the
Apollo 1 event just a few years earlier which Cole is haunted by, and the situation could not be
more dire.

Back in New York City, Kelly meets Moe Berkus (Woody Harrelson), a top advisor to President
Nixon, and has an entire family on all of the secrets from her past. He offers to make her history
disappear if she will convince Congressmen to restore NASA funding, give NASA a boost in the
public consciousness, and even help create a fake moon landing in case something terrible
happens on the Apollo 11 mission.

This film really surprised me. The trailers and advertising focuses very heavily on the creation of
the fake moon landing, but the story is much deeper and more interesting than advertised.
Scarlett Johansson absolutely shines as the fast talking, clever, and creative marketing
executive. The way she reads people, immediately sizes them up, and then delivers exactly
what they want to hear is just so natural and easy. You can’t help but love her character and
Kelly uses it to her great advantage. Channing Tatum delivers his best performance I’ve seen
from him, and has fabulous chemisty with Johansson. Add in a scene stealing Jim Rash as the
television commercial director who dreams of Hollywood stardom, Woody Harrelson as the
government executive determined to show an astronaut on the moon to the American people,
and a black cat who may or may not be placing a curse on the entire project.

The film is almost too long at 2 hours and 11 minutes, but that’s the only minor quibble I have
with the movie. It’s got strong direction from Greg Berlanti, a stellar cast, a clever script, and it
never veers into the absurd. I could easily see the film veering off into a screwball comedy in a
different universe, but Fly Me to the Moon is grounded, it’s got a lot of heart, and is just a really
fun time at the movies. It’s a nice romantic comedy that is a pleasant distraction from the
summer heat, and it’s worth the price of admission.

Grade: A

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