By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Living on the moon.
The year is 1989 and both the Russians and Americans have set-up bases on the moon. Each base has 2-people living in them. For the Russians things go smoothly mainly because they have a man and a woman (Dick Shawn, Anita Ekberg) cohabitating while the Americans have two men (Dennis Weaver, Howard Morris) who quickly go crazy because there are no women around for sex. NASA decides to replace the two men with a man and woman like the Russians have, but insist that unlike the Russians the American couple must be married. Pete (Jerry Lewis) who is a long time employee of the space agency is chosen and his female counterpart is fellow astronaut Eileen (Connie Stevens). The two had never met and are forced to accelerate their courtship and eventual marriage in a matter of 3 days before getting rocketed up into orbit.
To some degree this is an interesting idea and the first 15 minutes or so allows for some comic intrigue, but the filmmakers blow it by backing off of their novel approach and turning the whole thing into just another contrived romance. Stevens may be attractive, but her acting is limited and her presence adds no other added element to the proceedings besides being ‘eye candy’. The film would’ve been funnier had Pete been forced to go up with agency’s second choice, which was Esther (Bobo Lewis) who was a more aggressive, less attractive woman who could’ve added humorous conflicts. The spats between Pete and Eileen is banal and the second half devolves into one long drunken party between the American and Russian couple that isn’t funny and more like filler put in when the writers ran out of ideas from their original concept.
From a sci-fi angle it is implausible. The rocket ship takes only a few minutes to get from earth to the moon and when they get there the lack of gravity is never addressed and they are able to walk around normally except for the few times when they get into fights, which sends one person flying off into the air when punched by the other. The earth that is shown in the sky has no clouds even though clouds can always be seen from just about every satellite shot taken of earth from space. The film also ruins the most intriguing element, which is seeing how they might’ve predicted things would look like in the ‘80’s from a ‘60’s perspective by having a narrator state right away that ‘little has changed’ in the past 23 years and therefore making no attempt to show anything from a futuristic viewpoint.
Lewis is amazingly restrained and doesn’t end up ruining things with his overacting, which instead gets done by Shawn. Weaver has a few good moments as the stressed out astronaut slowly going nutty as well as Brian Keith as a gruff American general, but Robert Morley is the funniest as the over-worked and over-burdened head of the space program.
Since one must set the bar very low from the beginning with any Lewis comedy this manages to be tolerable despite being more benign than it needed to be.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: October 26, 1966
Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes
Director: Gordon Douglas
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: DVD (Region 2), Amazon Instant Video