THE SPACE BETWEEN US asks you to believe that journalists would show up in ball gowns to a press conference about a rocket launch—and that afterwards, they would spill out onto a picturesque runway, watching as a rocket revs its engines like a motorbike. Who wastes fuel like that? It’s clear we aren’t at NASA, and we aren’t going to be serious about science in this film. So where are we? I’ll just go ahead and tell you, since The Space Between Us is terrible at explaining itself in any other way than “Gary Oldman is a genius space inventor!” We’re dealing with a private space exploration company—a fantasy SpaceX, if you will—founded by Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman), a fantasy Elon Musk.
Back to that rocket ship: Within the first 15 minutes of the film—and midway to Mars—mission commander Sarah Elliot discovers she’s pregnant! Alas, while Fantasy SpaceX stocked enough snacks to last five years on Mars, they neglected to include even one measly abortion pill. Eventually, this unplanned space baby grows up to be Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), which means there’s already a huge amount of ground to cover before Space Between even gets to be the story it wants to be, which is a doomed teenager make-out road trip movie.
I know. Why did they start in space? After an hour of backstory, a wide-eyed Gardner finally waddles onto Earth and smooches motorcycle-riding Earth-girl Tulsa (Britt Robertson). But then here comes Gary Oldman and he’s upset about something!
Butterfield (previously of the lousy sci-fi flick Ender’s Game) is easily the most likable aspect of Space Between Us, with Roberston (previously of the lousy sci-fi flick Tomorrowland) coming in a close second. Both imbue their ridiculous dialogue with natural grace and manage, at times, to drag The Space Between Us’ goofy love affair down into authentic teenager-ness. But the film never shakes Gary Oldman: Despite all the road-trip make-outs, it’s Oldman’s character who constantly pushes the plot forward, and, in the end, is the film’s real main character. He was probably tricked into doing this movie with the lure of an egg sandwich.