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Space Cadet Film Review: Just a Girl in Orbit

Rex (Emma Roberts) lifts up her helmet in Space Cadet

Spacey in more ways than one, Space Cadet is a frivolous and dizzying adventure that makes space camp camp.

Director: Liz W. Garcia
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 110′
Global Release: July 4, 2024
Where to watch: Prime Video

A fun and flirty blonde suddenly has sky-high career aspirations for herself after years partying the days away, subsequently makes her way into the most elite program in the field, and with her unprecedented life experience that differs from her other stereotypical nerdy peers, saves the day (and looks gorgeous while doing it).

Move over, Legally Blonde. Space Cadet is a new summer sleepover staple for the girls.

Tiffany “Rex” Simpson (Emma Roberts, of Holidate) had always dreamed of going to space. But since her mom passed, she put her visions of NASA in the back seat and had to forgo her full-ride at Georgia Tech, halting all her career desires and subjecting her to a bartending job on Florida beaches throughout her twenties. But after Rex realizes that time isn’t slowing down, she’s immensely determined to shoot for her dream of becoming an astronaut, despite not meeting any of the qualifications NASA has enlisted on their website.

In comes her (very pregnant) best friend Nadine (Poppy Liu, of The Tiger’s Apprentice), who boosts Rex’s resume just a tiny, little bit. She includes Rex’s non-existent degree in engineering and her fictional, years-long research lab with whales, among other things. This leads Rex to be selected as an outstanding candidate for NASA’s exclusive and competitive astronaut training program, and she’s blasted from the Florida beach party scene all the way to space camp in Houston, Texas.

Rex (Emma Roberts) and Nadine (Poppy Liu) in Space Cadet
Rex (Emma Roberts) and Nadine (Poppy Liu) in Space Cadet (Eric Liebowitz/ Prime Video, © Amazon Content Services LLC)

Rex is an outsider in the space scene, and treated as so by her scientific, suspicious peers. But she remains determined and uses what makes her different from all the other astronaut candidates to stand out and fly her way to the top. Space Cadet isn’t exactly well done, but it certainly is enticing. Roberts is at the center of it all, type-casted for Rex since she fits the category of a plethora of Roberts’ other famous portrayals. Furthermore, Tom Hopper and Gabrielle Union, big names alongside Roberts for a summer streaming comedy, bounce off the screen as NASA program directors Logan and Pam, respectively, in addition to Roberts. These big names, combined with the trivial plot, highlight Space Cadet’s ability to be a fun summer flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

Liu’s performance as Roberts’ best friend, working the gym front desk and pretending to be all of Rex’s extremely accomplished, brilliant professional references, is one that particularly stands out. Effortlessly funny and ridiculous, she bares all of her ditzy character, embracing her in a way that brings originality and further hilarity to the film.

Another fresh, and relatable, performance comes from Kuhoo Verma, who portrays Violet Marie Viskawski, Rex’s roommate. After their initial difficulties with one another, the two girls help each other progress further in astronaut camp —Rex helping Violet grow more athletic, and Violet helping Rex with the academic side of things. Verma and Roberts are certainly enjoyable to watch together, and Verma’s character is one that many will probably be able to relate to, in the sense that she spends most of the time at NASA training feeling anxious, out of place, and relying on romance books for escapism. 

Space Cadet: Call Me Maybe Clip (Prime Video)

Space Cadet is a summer time blast.  It’s not a film that will be remembered for its script, effects or visuals, but for its frivolous energy, summertime vibe, and steady cast performances. It’s the perfect for a summer movie night, maybe alongside Aquamarine and Monte Carlo, which is why it probably is, fittingly, premiering on the fourth of July. Space Cadet may bring you back to watching a Disney Channel Original Movie on your living room couch as a tween — you’ll be cringing, but engaged and entertained.

Space Cadet will be released globally on Prime Video on July 4, 2024.

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