Space Cadet 

Space Cadet

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The elevator pitch is almost audible: Blonde Legally Blonde in Space Cadet , a highly underrated airhead who doesn’t dress or talk like snobs with golden resumes but demonstrate that she has the right stuff. Then perhaps a little bit of “Kingsman,” for some action, and voila. Rex here is played by Emma Roberts and is happily ‘living the Florida life’: beachside parties, wrestling alligators, serving in bars (she’s very good at remembering complicated drink orders), and sometimes wistfully watching NASA rocket launches. She used to watch them with her late mother and dream about one day getting into one of those rockets as an astronaut flying to the stars.

She graduated high school on full scholarship to college but stayed home when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. After that, she stayed home supporting her father (Sam Robards). But somehow ten years passed by. At her college reunion she wonders what their life could have been if she had followed her original dream especially after meeting up with a classmate Toddrick Spencer (Sebastián Yatra) who has become a tech billionaire whose company flies customers into the lower regions of Space Cadet.

Despite having no education or experience required for the Space Cadet program, Rex decides to apply for NASA anyway. For formatting help, she asks her friend Nadine, (the delightfully ditsy Poppy Liu of “Hacks”), and Nadine fakes up some credentials for the resume and submits it without saying anything to Rex again.

She doesn’t know that NASA thinks she’s got a PhD and is a pilot when they accept Rex. She believes it’s too late now to say something because of her continued study and survival even though most others are eliminated from legitimate competition through attrition.

Improvisation seems to be Liz W Garcia’s style in this Space Cadet film which makes it safe but not surprising in any way; thanks mainly to Robert’s performance who appears to be playing a part she actually loves so much that one would find it hard not to enjoy it with her as well. Despite some bad choices and excessive clothing – we know she’s a little trashy but there are too many of those airbrushed t- shirts and headbands from the drugstore – Robert’s makes Rex into an attractive character, imaginative, dedicated, team worker who wants everyone to succeed.

That helps make up for what surrounds her. See if you can figure out where these set-ups are going: Rex has endearingly quirky fellow astronaut candidates (unfortunately, and relentlessly referred to as As-Cans), plus one an uptight, hyper-competitive blonde mean girl (Desi Lydic). One of Rex’s supervisors is a geeky but very good looking chap with a posh British accent (Tom Hopper) who hasn’t got fun in him. Rex’s hoax is uncovered; she loses her job before final selection is done, but then … yeah. You’re right!

Though as-Can clearly had no future and was doomed to fail, since two unexpected colonoscopy references, jokes about disabilities and Gabrielle Union being wasted in the cast of NASA program leaders, there are quite a few interesting things in its plot. Rex is good at problem solving whether it involves machines or people’s issues. Through the Space Cadet script she comes up with some ideas that would never make it in NASA or be based on any physical principles but which always remind us of how down-to-earth and resourceful she is. Besides her MacGyver-like mechanical ability being enjoyable to watch, Rex finds every possible reason to support others too.

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