“The Space Between Us” is a cute title that represents the film’s interesting concept: the lead astronaut on a mission to a human settlement on Mars called “East Texas” is pregnant. She gives birth to the child, who she names Gardener, while on the red planet. When he reaches the age of 16, Gardener demands to go to Earth and experience life as a normal teenager. He’s also been video chatting for the past year with a girl named Tulsa (who lives in Colorado – don’t ask). He tells her he has a medical condition and is living in a mansion in NYC. He has to lie because no one, except those on Mars and a small group of NASA scientists, knows that the “Martian from Another Mother” exists.
This far-out plot is, essentially, a reverse “Romeo & Juliet”. Gardener wants to meet Tulsa (the star-crossed lovers are played by Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson) but that’s forbidden. He finally is allowed to come to Earth, but must escape from a top-level security facility to search for her.
The obligatory cross country chase fills the second half of “The Space Between Us”. Will these two crazy kids get to express their love for one another before they’re tracked-down by the adults, led by Gardener’s longtime caretaker (Carla Gugino) and the creator of the East Texas mission, played by Gary Oldman? If the well-respected Oldman has a yearly quota for how many times he has to shout during a movie, he’s filled that entire quota here.
“The Space Between Us” has a YA novel feel, but surprisingly, this is an original story – one with plenty of problems when it comes to logic. For example: how did Gardener begin video chatting with Tulsa? Did he search for girls online? Maybe he used “MartiansOnly.com? I wouldn’t be shocked considering the film’s big twist also belongs in the same “highly uncomfortable” category.
A common feature in movies this year has been scenes in which patients escape from hospitals, something nearly impossible to do in real life. Add “The Space Between Us” to the list. This, and number of cars Gardener and Tulsa steal while on the run (that could fill a Drive-In Movie Theater on a summertime Saturday night) only add to the lack of believability of the script.
“The Space Between Us” is not a complete misfire. The dialogue, at times, is quite good, and the cinematography is sci-fi shiny. There are some nice situations, a couple of fun nods to the alien/Mars theme, as well as plenty of references (intentional or otherwise) to classic movies, including the latest (but far from greatest) variation of the “North by Northwest” cropduster sequence.
But there are so many ridiculous scenes and absurd plotlines that you simply can’t take this movie seriously. This mission to Mars has set the Hollywood space program back decades.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Space Between Us” gets a C-.
Running Time: 121 min.