Walt and Sophie become an unlikely pair, mostly in that Walt’s fast-talking ways and clinginess somehow convince Sophie to sneak him into the ship she’s boarding, after she finally decides to buy a “civilian” ride for nearly a million dollars. Desperate to be with Ginny, he rides up in an escape pod, and then when it’s time for the voyage to Mars from a station, he plans on hiding in the air ducts. Though she’s annoyed an in danger herself, she decides to help him, so much that Walt pretends to be Calvin through a fake ID mixup.
How does Walt get around all of this without getting caught? The movie has an amusing explanation later on, but even with that in hindsight one wishes it were more airtight with its premise, and its presentation of space travel security protocols. This lazy gap in believability (along with not explaining until later how she can afford a ticket) then defines other parts of “Moonshot,” which has the out-of-this-world location, and a compelling cast, but not a great imagination of what to do with them. Even the hijinks as Walt and Sophie bide their time during this voyage are pretty mild, supported by quirky sitcom-like characters who smile and continue to soften the story’s edges. Despite its charms, “Moonshot” can only offer glimmers: the possibility of its adventure, or that its slightly off-kilter sense of humor that might carry us away.
Sprouse and Condor are the main reason to watch this movie, for their chemistry that also leaves you wanting more. Sprouse is a little too cozy with his character’s post-Ryan Reynolds motormouth ways, charming any character by forcing his presence upon them. Condor, meanwhile, is endearing and earnest with her character’s dedication to goals, not realizing they are her boyfriend’s. But the script is limited on how to make her feel more alive; Sophie has a funny, quirky habit of dancing when under stress, but we don’t get more of that kind of color to her character. An emotional subplot about Sophie feeling a sense of loyalty to her boyfriend, and his family (it’s a long story) doesn’t blossom. And while Condor is going to be a megastar—the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” movies proved that—you just don’t see that here.