Space Cadet Takes Flight on Prime Video on July 4

A Florida woman follows her dreams by joining NASA’s prestigious astronaut training program in Space Cadet, streaming July 4 on Prime Video.

Tiffany “Rex” Simpson (Emma Roberts) has dreams of becoming an astronaut. Unfortunately, those dreams have hit a road block or two or three, especially after the death of her mother, Tara. In any event, Rex’s life is probably not what she thought it would be as she inches closer to the end of her 20s. Her high school reunion proves it after life derailments along the way. She’s working as a bartender while also wrestling alligators on occasion in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Will she still be able to achieve lift-off? Maybe but she’ll have to work for it.

Rex soon sets her sights on NASA’s Astronaut Candidate (AsCan) training program in Houston but it comes with a catch. Her credentials clearly have no place in NASA so best friend Nadine Cai (Poppy Liu) embellishes Rex’s resume. Rex somehow manages to become one of the top trainees. Education might hold others back but not Rex. She perseveres even when the odds are against her and she makes enemies with some of her classmates. They’re rooting for her to fail. Meanwhile, nobody in the right mind would put Rex in a fighter plane! I will not lie that I was freaking out right there alongside Rex. Seriously! But anyway, Rex has romantic chemistry with the program’s deputy director, Logan (Tom Hopper). Pam Proctor (Gabrielle Union) is the Director of Operations. Will NASA realizes Rex’s resume contains falsehoods and will it stop her from becoming an astronaut?

Captain Jack Mancini (Andrew Call), Dr. Stacy Kellogg (Desi Lydic), Violet Marie Vislawski (Kuhoo Verma), Rex Simpson (Emma Roberts), Nadine Cai (Poppy Liu), Pam Proctor (Gabrielle Union), and Logan O'Leary (Tom Hopper) on the Space Cadet key artwork.
Captain Jack Mancini (Andrew Call), Dr. Stacy Kellogg (Desi Lydic), Violet Marie Vislawski (Kuhoo Verma), Rex Simpson (Emma Roberts), Nadine Cai (Poppy Liu), Pam Proctor (Gabrielle Union), and Logan O’Leary (Tom Hopper) on the Space Cadet key artwork. Courtesy of Prime Video.

Dreams can be serious business. Some of them, though, can be particularly out of reach. Like Rex’s dream to become an astronaut. Nobody in the right mind would recruit Rex–a bartender–for a cutthroat training programming at NASA. You would have to be kidding yourself! And yet, Rex just might be the one person who can save the day when disaster strikes. Hell, she already calms down a classmate who has panic attacks during drills. If you notice the casting between NASA and classmates, there’s a number of women from diverse backgrounds. Not all of them are pictured in the above key artwork.

I like the whole fish-out-of-water concept that Liz W. Garcia brings to the screenplay. It’s genius, really. The fact that it’s an original script when so many studios feel more focused on familiar IP really speaks volumes. I only wish it was coming to theaters rather than a streaming service because I feel it would play so much better with the communal laughter. Maybe that’s just me. But anyway, take a wannabe astronaut/party girl out of Florida and send her to train with the best of the best. It isn’t so much a question of if she can do it inasmuch as can she actually get away with it. Whether classmates root for one to fail or not, teamwork is what wins at the end of the day.

What helps lend the film its authentic flavor is filming on location at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Smithsonian Affiliate is home to the visitor’s center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Space Camp. They build a number of modules as well as utilize a Marchetti S.211. The turbofan-powered military trainer aircraft is utilized in a key sequence. Similarly, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino cameos in the scene where Rex realizes what Nadine did. If you’re considering AsCan, please keep in mind that the film does not depict where they drop candidates in the middle of the Canadian Rockies with just a backpack for survival. Other than that, they really capture the intensity.

With a script elevated by Emma Roberts, Space Cadet is both a celebration of women in motion, second chances, and a reminder that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Liz W. Garcia
CAST: Emma Roberts, Tom Hopper, Poppy Liu and Gabrielle Union, Kuhoo Verma, Desi Lydic, Sebastián Yatra, Yasha Jackson, Andrew Call, Troy Iwata, Josephine Huang, Dave Foley, Sam Robards, Joshua Harto

Prime Video releases Space Cadet on July 4, 2024. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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