Space Station 76 (2014)

JACK PLOTNICK

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B.5

USA, 2014.  Rival Pictures, Om Films.  Screenplay by , Jack Plotnick, , , , based on their play.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by Sharon Rutter.

Generation X-ers who grew up watching Battlestar Galactica reruns and the original Star Wars movies indulge in the pleasure of seventies-style fashions in this sci-fi attempt at campy comedy. Based on a play by a number of comedic performers, who also wrote the screenplay and many of whom appear on screen, it takes place on a space station where Liv Tyler has just arrived to be co-captain to Patrick Wilson, still depressed at the departure of the man who had the job before her. Tyler is actually better at the job than Wilson is but as she’s a girl she is not taken seriously; she also finds herself at odds with the pant-suit wearing Marisa Coughlan when she befriends the woman’s little girl and makes eyes at her miserable and lonely husband (Matt Bomer). It seems that what we’re going for here is an outer space counterpart to Wet Hot American Summer, and the silly plotting would be easily forgivable if it wasn’t for one element that is glaringly absent: it’s not funny. What was probably a campy good time highlighted by runaway improvisations on stage is wooden on the big screen amid big-money special effects and meticulously designed sets. Relegating the original cast to supporting roles to make way for big-screen superstars (co-writer Sam Pancake has a throwaway cameo as his stage role has been taken over by Wilson) means that there are hilarious characterizations in the corners of the film (Kali Rocha is particularly great) while those at the centre of it are acting like they’re in an Ibsen tragedy. It’s a strange misfire and an unfortunate one given the potential for something special, though it’s nice to see the always affable Tyler on screen.

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