In all honesty, telling an insurance company you need some cash for a quick jaunt to Mars will not get you very far. The cost of living is bad enough and more people are looking to cash out and fly off to a different planet where nothing has been established. More power to them. Astronaut showed Richard Dreyfuss could attach himself to the space race, opening doors for 70-year-olds and people who cannot sit in chairs properly across the globe. Now it is the turn of Kevin Bacon, EE Man and the most-connected person living, an embodiment of the internet connection he represents in flashy adverts on terrestrial television. Space Oddity, which is an obvious reference to the one David Bowie song worth listening to from his first two albums, gives Bacon and friends the chance to reveal all about space.
But space is losing its charm now that tech weirdos and billionaires are infecting it with their strange behaviours and balding ambitions. Space Oddity does well to try and pluck the final frontier away from corporate masses and into the hands of plucky individuals but it certainly does not work. It is not the EE Man heading off for an impossible journey but his relative. Bacon is background fodder, as he has been for the past four years. Kyle Allen is the man in the main running and, for whatever reason, his desire to change career from engineer to Martian splits his family three ways. Delight from his mother, silence from his father and bewilderment from his sister. Each is rattled off with as much indifference as Bacon displays for his son’s ambition to leave earth.
Preparing for the big move to outer space is the equivalent of seeing a family react to things they do not understand, but need to support. Blind faith and the hope it works out is a loving family and Space Oddity has this feeling close to its heart. Sure, it has hammy effects and the occasional sway toward romantic simplicity, but no person should stand between the final frontier and a person’s ambition. Life changes at a breakneck pace and there are always reasons to stick around where we believe we belong, as Space Oddity finds. Allen and Alexandra Shipp make for a fun leading duo, nice enough to work through the shortcomings of the Kyra Sedgwick-directed feature. Running away from your troubles to move to a flat with a spiral staircase is one choice, firing off into the skies is another.
Of course, a cover of Bowie’s classic track features, because licensing the real deal would be far too much of a stretch for a budget used instead to hire Simon Helberg to provide a Russian accent. Money well spent, but what is lost in the budget is gained in the star power which still lingers on. Bacon is near-mute but has an effectiveness to his role. Allen storms through the scenes as best he can while Shipp makes for capable support as the love interest who deserves much more than this role. Would a trip to space make much difference to a life spinning out of control? Probably not, but those dreams we cling to in the darker days are what keep things moving on, and for all its faults, Space Oddity has such a thought at its core.