Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Today’s Prayer Focus

Fly Me to the Moon

also known as “To the Moon,” “Fly Me to the Moon - Le due facce della Luna,” “Beni Ay'a Uçur,” “Como Vender a Lua,” “La Otra Cara De La Luna,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating for some strong language, and smoking.

Reviewed by: Aiden Sexton

Moral Rating: Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Romance Comedy
Length: 2 hr. 12 min.
Year of Release: 2024
USA Release: July 12, 2024 (wide release)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Picturesclick photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues

Setting: NASA during the 1960s Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union

The NASA Apollo program for landing on Earth’s moon

Faking the Moon landing footage

Have scientists discovered the Moon’s origin?

The Moon in the Bible

Creationist scientists answer astronomy questions

About lies and deception

Featuring Scarlett JohanssonKelly Jones
Channing TatumCole Davis
Woody HarrelsonMoe Berkus
Ray RomanoHenry Smalls
Jim RashLance Vespertine
Peter JacobsonChuck Meadows
Christian ClemensonPress Agent Walter
Colin JostSenator Cook
See all »
Director Greg Berlanti
Producer Robert J. Dohrmann
Scarlett Johansson
See all »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Trademark logo.
Columbia Pictures
, a division of Sony Pictures

“Will they make history… or fake it?”

Another film of the same name: “Fly Me To the Moon” (2008)

“Fly Me To The Moon” begins with three minutes of exposition in the form of compiled historical video and audio clips setting up the 1960s Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Apollo 11 mission is being helmed by Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), a charismatic hotshot who was also in charge of the Apollo 1 mission two years earlier in ’67. Meanwhile, Kelly Jones (an excellent Scarlett Johansson) becomes the marketing specialist of NASA after working at Ford Motor Company.

The ideologies of advertising embellisher Kelly versus the pragmatic Cole are constantly at odds, which makes for some interesting conflict and humor. The story kicks in when Kelly realizes that the way the moon landing will be presented live to the world may involve more deceptive means than she originally signed up for. The final result of “Fly Me…” is a two-hour film weaving together stories of an unlikely couple and the ethical and moral murkiness of marketing campaigns.

The Good

In terms of visual appeal, “Fly Me…” has a lot of it. Everything from the sets to the music to the costumes viscerally brings viewers into the late 1960s. The film as a whole feels very vintage, as it should.

It’s worth dedicating an entire paragraph just to Scarlett Johansson. She is simply an excellent lead here, and seamlessly disappears into her character Kelly Jones. At the beginning I was wondering if her established MCU persona would be a distraction, but after a while I found myself just looking at the character she was playing. I would not be at all surprised if she appears in the Oscar® nominations next year for this performance.

The rest of the performances are good as well. Channing Tatum gives a fine performance as Cole Davis, even if at times he is very obviously the hunky Channing Tatum on screen. Ray Romano is great and hilarious in his sidekick role alongside Tatum’s character, and Woody Harrelson appropriately plays himself as the foul-mouthed stick-in-the-mud Moe Berkus.

Critics seem to be torn over the on-screen chemistry between Tatum and Johansson. I think it worked pretty well. Their relationship is mostly what you would expect in a romcom, but at the same time I liked how it didn’t feel as familiar as it could have felt. Both of their screen presences are strong, and neither one overpowers the other.

The characterization is also good. While we do not learn a lot about Kelly and Cole’s pasts, there are constant hints about what brought each of them to this point, as well as their motives in light of the past. Most impressive, the movie does this with minimal flashbacks or scenes of exposition. I felt myself really empathizing with Tatum’s character, and even Kelly’s further along in the film.

The dialog is witty and well-written, and the story is well-paced and entertaining. There’s not much in the story to spoil, as the demographic the movie caters to is full of people at least somewhat familiar with the Apollo 11 mission. That said, while the storyline is pretty predictable, there are a couple interesting turns “Fly Me…” takes that subverted my expectations. I found most of the third act to be gripping, as I was unsure how some things would unfold.

One of the biggest surprises I found was the amount of humor. Sure, it’s technically billed as a romcom, but I did not expect to laugh out loud nearly as much as I did throughout. At times I was laughing hysterically because of things that the characters would say or do.

Related to this, another thing “Fly Me…” excels at is tone. While the movie’s very funny, it’s also serious and sober at times. “Fly Me…” balances both of these opposing tones without either feeling like they contradict or get in the way of the other. The overall feel is very natural and authentic to the drives and motives of the characters. There are a lot of different themes in the movie (I’ll get into these more in the “Moral Elements” section), and I think the movie does a good job of juggling all of them in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming or rushed.

The Bad

As you may have suspected, several plot points in “Fly Me…” require a certain amount of suspended disbelief from the viewer. I wasn’t bothered by them too much in the moment, but those wanting a strong plot on a firm foundation might find elements of the story lacking.

I also had some issues with how the film wrapped up. I won’t say specifically what they are here, as that would be getting into spoiler territory. What I will say is that a few of the character arcs and reactions to some things that happened near the end I did not think were very realistic or compelling.

Another thing that comes to mind is Woody Harrelson’s character. He’s a large part of the movie and even necessary, but there are times where it feels like he’s there simply to move the plot along and conveniently raise certain stakes. There are also aspects of his motive that I do not entirely buy into.

I won’t speak to the historical accuracy of “Fly Me…”, as I am not very familiar with the historic facts surrounding Apollo 11. Also, it’s technically billed as a conspiracy theory movie, and so by definition there are bound to be some artistic liberties that are taken. The only thing I will say here is that it’s possible some viewers might be annoyed that this is what the movie is trying to be instead of just telling the facts of what actually took place in 1969.

Content of Concern

VIOLENCE: Mild. Most of the movie is full of thematic elements pertaining to regret and blame, but they do not overtake the rest of it. In one scene a man gets frustrated in an interview, yelling threatening words at a newsman. Near the beginning, a tank explodes and causes a man to fly against a wall. It’s meant to be humorous.

LANGUAGE: Moderate to heavy. This is the most offensive part of “Fly Me…” by a long shot. There’s one instance of “F**k.” There are a handful of scatological terms [“Sh*t” (7x), “Piece of sh*t,” “Bullsh*t”] and throwaway profanities [“D*mn it,” “H*ll” (3), “Go to h*ll,” “What the h*ll”]. God’s name is abused several times [“Jesus” (2), “Oh my g*d” (4), “G*d” (3), “My g*d,” “By g*d,” “G*d-damn” (3), “Swear to g*d,” “For g*d’s sake,” “G*d-forsaken”]. There are also anatomical references and name-calling [“A**” (2x), “A**hole,” “Save my a**,” “B*tch,” “Son of a b*tch,” “Whiny little b*tch,” “Stupid,” “Shut up” (2)].

I suppose it can be said that people back then in this context did frequently speak like this, and therefore such foul language is accurate to the time it portrays. At the same time, I really don’t think this amount of language is necessary for what they are going for here. They could have easily trimmed down the salty dialog by a lot while not taking anything away from the movie. One might wonder if the screenwriters added all the language partially to ensure that “Fly Me…” got a PG-13 rating to help with box office numbers.

NUDITY: Minor. There are a couple of times when Kelly shows minor cleavage. We briefly see shirtless men at a pool in the background.

SEX: Mild to moderate. There are two kissing scenes between Cole and Kelly, each lasting around 15 seconds. Moe makes a derogatory remark about being pregnant (having “a bun in the oven”). A woman comments that Cole is “easy on the eyes.”

DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Moderate. People in smoke cigarettes constantly (at least a dozen times). There are also a number of scenes where liquor is shown and/or consumed.

WOKEISM: Mild to moderate. One man is clearly portrayed as Gay after we learn that he has a husband (besides that, the way he acts is enough to give away his sexual orientation). “Fly Me…” doesn’t comment on this much throughout, but you have to wonder why they included him at all. Female empowerment is a palpable theme in the beginning of the film.

Moral Elements

I’m going to keep my thoughts on moral issues under one heading instead of two (“Good” and “Bad”). This is because several of the moral issues worth talking about are complex and multifaceted in a way that does not make a black and white discussion easy.

The first obvious thing is that there are many characters with bad, selfish motivations. Kelly (Johansson) is constantly lying and promoting “false” advertisement in order to promote the Apollo 11 marketing campaign. Moe’s character is the forefront of the movement toward faking the moon landing footage, and similarly has a strong desire to promote “fake” Apollo 11 footage on national television during the Moon landing in order to tout the technological defeat of the Soviet Union. Scripture clearly prohibits these actions.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” —Proverbs 12:22

“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” —Proverbs 21:6

On the other hand, there are characters with good moral ideals. The first person that comes to mind is Cole himself. While not perfect, one of the things he constantly confronts Kelly about is the false advertising that she frequently touts. At one point Cole says to her, “So you’re going to lie?” Kelly responds, “It’s called selling. We’re not lying to the customer; we’re changing the way they think.” Cole rejoins by saying, “No, it’s called lying.” It’s little lines of dialog like this that hints where the movie itself is coming from morally.

Additionally, I can think of at least two times where characters explicitly show regret over past sins they have committed. This is consistent with Scripture which says, no matter how far we’ve gone, it’s never too late to repent.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” —2 Peter 3:9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:9

***MINOR SPOILER*** At one point Kelly confesses to Cole that, from when she was little, she used her beauty and charm to lie and get what she wanted. She says, “I lied to so many people. The worst lies are the ones I told myself. This is the last time I’ll trick someone into getting what I want.” This shows significant maturity and growth on Kelly’s part, and gives her a fine character arc. ***END SPOILER***

In the end, I think it’s safe to say that “Fly Me…” is pro-honesty in the simplest sense. It’s complicated, though, because there seem to be quite a few evil actions in the film that never get apologized for. It may be that the film is morally inconsistent, or it might be that we’re expected to take the aforementioned character arcs as apologies for the whole. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

On the negative side again, the first half of the movie seems to hint at ideals consistent with Feminism and female empowerment. I can’t help but think that this is purposeful, as Scarlett Johansson both stars in and produces the movie. While I felt that hints of that were being thrown in from time to time, I didn’t think it dominated the movie by any means.

The last negative things I’ll put here are difficult, because in a sense they’re extrinsic to the movie. For one, “Fly Me…” is directed by Greg Berlanti, who is openly homosexual and an activist. In 2018 he directed “Love, Simon,” a Gay-teen romance comedy. Also, Jim Rash plays a Gay man in “Fly Me…” who has a fairly big part to play in the third act. He acted in 2022’s “Bros,” a Gay romantic comedy, and according to an interview he “came out” around 10 years before the movie was made. Rash is also reportedly the first person that was cast for “Fly Me.” The fact that they purposely included a Gay man in this movie when they really didn’t need to is enough to raise a few eyebrows. Again, the fact that he’s Gay doesn’t play a big part in the film; it’s just strange and frustrating that it’s here at all.

Now on the positive side, one of the most prominent themes of the movie has to do with regret and what to do with it. Both the main characters relate to this (along with a few others), and for very different reasons. I mentioned Kelly’s guilt earlier, and while that’s interesting in and of itself, I was even more compelled by the guilt that Cole bears over the Apollo 1 travesty that happened before Apollo 11. The movie has a surprisingly mature tone and feel when it dives into issues like this, and I found myself really caring when it popped up.

I’ll save the best for last by talking about what is far and away my favorite scene. It’s technically not a spoiler, but just in case you want to be surprised I’ll put spoiler brackets around it.

***MINOR SPOILER*** Kelly and Cole are invited over for dinner by a senator who has cold feelings toward the Apollo mission. We learn that this senator is some sort of minister, and that he believes that the Apollo mission “flies in the face of the Creator.” Cole responds by saying that he believe this is one of the best ways to experience God’s glory. This next quote is a paraphrase, but in essence Cole says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” He created Earth and the universe in six days before giving it to us, and to me that seems like a responsibility. “Searching the stars is one of the best ways people can glimpse the divine.” The senator is stirred by this, and he signs documents related to funding Apollo 11. We later learn that Cole’s statement was genuine. After they leave, Kelly says she’s impressed with how Cole manipulated the senator. Cole responds by saying, “For the record, you can sell people over by just being who you are.” This scene is not long at all and from a screenwriting perspective it’s not necessary. But the fact that they chose to add it and make it as plain as it is seems telling to me. ***END SPOILER***

Q & A

Final Thoughts

“Fly Me to the Moon” is a hilarious, entertaining, and at times shocking ride of a movie jam packed with many things to think about. It’s definitely not perfect, but it works well enough. It probably doesn’t deserve a Best Picture nod, but there are many other categories (“Best Actress,” “Best Costume Design”) that it will likely get nominated in.

Morally speaking, however, it’s sort of a mixed bag. There are many noteworthy and even Biblical themes of honesty, repentance, regret, and forgiveness within the movie. But there are also many contradictory elements that make “Fly Me…” morally foggy and thus difficult to sort through. Additionally, the language alone is enough to make most Christians hesitant to watch without some filtering service to clean up the coarse dialog.

Ultimately the choice is yours, but I will simply advise you to not make the decision on a whim. I’ll leave you with the words of Solomon:

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” —Proverbs 4:23

  • Violence: Mild
  • Profane language: Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Heavy
  • Nudity: Minor
  • Sex: Mild
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate
  • Occult: None
  • Wokeism: Moderate

Learn about DISCERNMENT—wisdom in making personal entertainment decisions

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