Spaceman: new Adam Sandler film leaves you stranded with boredom

See why this writer feels Adam Sandler's newest movie falls flat.

Alex Paine
4th April 2024
Image Source: IMDb
For all the terrible comedies that the man has been involved in, we can’t deny that Adam Sandler is a terrific actor, a fact that older classics such as Punch Drunk Love and recent masterpieces such as Uncut Gems have proved. Sadly, Spaceman fails to stack up against those previous turns at drama, not because of him but rather flat direction and a script severely lacking in passion.

The premise of Spaceman is a simple but effective one. Sandler is the lone crewmember on a mission to investigate a mysterious cloud, and his absence from Earth is causing his relationship with his pregnant wife to strain. There’s the potential here for a really deep and thought-provoking science-fiction story, but alas Spaceman’s main problem is that its pace is ridiculously slow. In fact it’s borderline glacial. 105 minutes should not feel this long and yet they somehow do. Spaceman just feels like it’s lost all momentum, instead drifting aimlessly in space.

The really annoying thing is that there is interesting stuff here. As I said, the premise is really strong and I’m sure that another director could’ve given the film much-needed dynamic and punch. Instead, Johan Renck chooses to let the film annoyingly linger for far too long, and as a result the whole thing just feels really flat and aimless.

Let down by the film’s infuriatingly lethargic pacing and overly dour tone

Renck can be a good director. He directed some fantastic episodes of Breaking Bad and he turned some of David Bowie’s final songs into visually striking and brilliantly haunting music videos. Maybe he’s unable to stretch the talents he has across a whole feature film, but if that is the case then why did he choose a project set in space that demands a memorable visual flair?

Adam Sandler is great here though, and he’s trying his best to give the film some life. Not by being overly energetic because that wouldn’t be appropriate, but by trying to bring out more emotion from the situation. It works in spots. There’s some great flashback scenes of him falling in love with his wife, played by Carey Mulligan, that are really effective at getting across their romantic connection, and when that’s juxtaposed with the misery and loneliness he’s currently feeling, I did actually find myself caring. The problem is there just isn’t enough of that great character development to elevate the film. 

The scenes in the present down on Earth grind the film to a halt, which doesn’t help when the pacing is already far too slow, since the only interesting stuff going on is happening up in space. So why are we constantly cutting back to Carey Mulligan moping around?

There’s a wonderful idea explored here when a spider-like creature comes to give Sandler’s character assistance with his personal problems, which was easily my favourite aspect of Spaceman beside Sandler’s performance. However, these moments between Sandler and the creature are still let down by the film’s infuriatingly lethargic pacing and overly dour tone. 

I really wanted to enjoy Spaceman more, as I love it whenever Adam Sandler gets to show us what a good actor he is, but the director and script do the bare minimum with a great idea, leading to a frustratingly disappointing viewing experience.

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