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With: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery
Written by: Allan Loeb, based on a story by Allan Loeb, Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief sensuality and language
Running Time: 120
Date: 02/03/2017

The Space Between Us (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Fault in Our Mars

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Space Between Us definitely has aspects of science fiction, including space travel and habitation of other planets, but don't expect any actual science here.

Here, data is able to pass instantly between Earth and Mars, and a character on that Red Planet are able to suddenly teleport to the rescue of a crashed Mars buggy.

It might be possible to ignore all this, and other ridiculous logic holes, and simply concentrate on the goopy teen romance between Gardener (Asa Butterfield), who was born on Mars, and cute teen foster child Tulsa (Britt Robertson), but the space stuff keeps coming up as an impediment.

The story begins implausibly as a team of astronauts heads to Mars to live for a period of four years; somehow missing out on rigorous pre-flight exams, the female captain turns out to be pregnant. She carries the child in zero gravity, gives birth on Mars, and dies in the effort.

Sixteen years later, NASA has kept him a secret, and Gardener has lived his entire life on the little outpost, raised by Kendra (Carla Gugino). He computer chats with Tulsa on earth, telling white lies as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Gary Oldman plays the man in charge of the whole Mars operation; he gives a strangely unhinged performance, complete with a lot of pacing and wailing and ranting.

So, eventually Gardener gets to earth, and his body has a hard time adapting, but he still has a quick and effortless romance — and a road trip! — with Tulsa.

Butterfield and Robertson are certainly likable enough, but a better idea might have been doing away with the entire unlikely prologue, and simply plunking Gardener on earth, without any proof that he's a martian. Is he telling the truth? Can Tulsa trust him? That alone would have been ten times the movie that this one is.

Once we get past the bad sci-fi, the movie turns into a kind of Fault in Our Stars-like teen weepie with lots of meaningful looks and swelling music. But fear not, the sci-fi comes back in a bizarre, unlikely, last-ditch life-saving attempt.

Directed by Peter Chelsom, whose work includes mega-flop Town & Country, as well as Hannah Montana: The Movie, and Hector and the Search for Happiness, The Space Between Us is a special kind of bad movie, borne out of loopy misguided ideas rather than lazy, callous ones (the latter is far more common).

It's the kind of bad movie that makes for fun bad-movie nights with friends. Just don't expect anything genuinely smart or genuinely moving.

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