Adam Sandler’s Spaceman: A Sci-Fi Movie or a Therapy Session?

As a cinema enthusiast, you sometimes stumble upon movies that might not be very well received by the masses but turn out to be a decent watch. Adam Sandler’s Spaceman was supposed to be a sci-fi movie, as teased in the trailer, but in truth, it turned out to be more of a self-discovery journey. The movie might not have nailed the sci-fi part, which if cut out and replaced with a different setting it wouldn’t matter, but it was bang on when it came to the human aspect. The way the picture of a man’s journey of rediscovering himself is painted in the movie along with an unlikely companion is commendable.

An Unlikely Companionship in Space

Adam Sandler’s Spaceman: A Sci-Fi Movie or a Therapy Session?
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Spaceman revolves around a Czech astronaut named Jakub, played by Sandler, who has been sent to the edge of Jupiter to examine a purple-ish anomaly in space. The length of his mission is one year, out of which he has spent 189 days in outer space. At this point, he is in an abysmal state, both physically and mentally. He is not able to sleep but when he does, he has weird nightmares. One day he wakes up to a thudding sound and discovers a huge spider in his spaceship.

Jakub is terrified but the spider is conscious, calm, and composed, he can talk and claims to be from a species of extraterrestrial beings. The huge spider tells Jakub that he is intrigued by his mental state and wishes to assist him with his mental distress.

After some time, their conversations get deeper, giving origin to an unlikely companionship, and eventually, Jakub named the spider Hanus (voiced by Paul Dano).

Throughout the movie, Hanus helps Jakub dive deep into his mind and understand the one thing he has been doing wrong all his life. The sermon appears in the form of beautiful dialogue which, for a moment, will make you think about your life as well.

Notes of Self-Discovery

Adam Sandler’s Spaceman: A Sci-Fi Movie or a Therapy Session?
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Okay so guys, if you start watching the Spaceman movie with the impression that you will get to see a space adventure, let me tell you beforehand that even though it is set in outer space, it’s not exactly a thrilling space adventure.

This movie majorly revolves around the theme of self-discovery, finding what you want from life, especially if you are as narcissistic and aloof to the emotions of others around you as Jakub. The protagonist has big dreams and lofty ambitions, he wants to explore space and do his own thing, but in the process, he has always neglected his wife, Lenka (played by Carey Mulligan).

He has been constantly absent from her life, even when she had a miscarriage he paid little to no heed to her emotional agony only thinking about himself. When she got pregnant again, he left to study the Chopra Cloud (the space anomaly). When Hanus comes into his life, the spider makes a space fool dive deep into what he really wants, making Jakub realize that he has been doing things wrong all along.

This movie comments on the human reality of desires. We as humans, spend all our lives chasing one thing after another, and sometimes in that pursuit, we leave behind things and people we love and care about. And when we finally achieve what we want, there’s no one to go back to or tell us that we did a good job.

In Spaceman, Jakub did what he wants and travels to space, but in that process, he loses the love of his wife, which is not portrayed with as much emotional depth as it could’ve been. The film focused primarily on the emotional state of Jakub, yes, our narcissistic protagonist, but according to me, to understand Lenka (Jakub’s wife) choosing to divorce him, a much deeper insight into her mental state was required.

Due to the lack of insight into her role, for a good part of the movie, you will see the character in a bad light because the reason for her abandoning Jakub is revealed very late in the movie. And the mishmash of flashbacks and loose plotlines further contribute to this issue, wearing you out by the end.

However, the message Spaceman wishes to convey is loud and clear. Without the interference of Hanus, the alien spider, Jakub would have no home to go back to once he reached Earth.

Spaceman: A Biblical Metaphor?

Adam Sandler’s Spaceman: A Sci-Fi Movie or a Therapy Session?
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Now one of the things that I noticed in the Spaceman movie is that it is somewhat metaphorical to the biblical concept of an afterlife. In the Holy Bible, it is stated that when we die, we will not be alone on our journey to heaven but an angel will accompany us. In the case of Spaceman, Jakub being ignorant towards his wife is a metaphor for death where a part of his life ends.

Hanus is the angel who even greets Jakub for the first time with “Be not Afraid, Skinny Human.” During the whole journey to the Chopra Cloud, the spider helps Jakub with his issues, creating a new life for him back home, a metaphor for the loss of an old life and the beginning of a new one.

The world-building is, of course, not as expansive as Arrakis in Dune Part 2, a desolate space setting is what Spaceman delivers with Sandler at the helm, and he’s not his absurdly boorish comedic self. Truth be told, it was unsettling to see him outside of a comic flick, but Sandler fittingly fills Jakub’s shoes, making this a movie you should watch at least once if you have time.

If you are someone who is what we call a “workaholic,” who sees nothing except their work, trust me, you should give this a watch without fail. Spaceman is not your traditional sci-fi movie, so do not stream it with that expectation but it indeed is a totally different experience in itself.

Beebom’s Take on Adam Sandler’s Spaceman

Adam Sandler’s Spaceman: A Sci-Fi Movie or a Therapy Session?
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Spaceman is indeed a movie that was made with the right intent but as far as I think, the marketing of this movie was done with the wrong approach. I feel that if Spaceman was marketed as more of a drama and self-help movie instead of a sci-fi movie, it would attract the right audience. As it stands now, because of being titled a science fiction, people are watching it with the expectation of a, well you know, a science fiction film and are hence disappointed.

It seems that the makers of this film forgot the fact that having the element of space travel does not mean that the movie in itself is science fiction. The theme around which the movie revolves defines the genre of the movie and for this one, it is drama and self-help. Because of this incorrect labeling, a movie with potential in the self-help genre is barely making it in front of an audience.

Spaceman is directed by Johan Renck, the director of TV shows like Breaking Bad and Chernobyl and if you look closely, these shows revolve hugely around human psychology too, incorporating the themes of a combination of actions and consequences or character development.

Breaking Bad is a visual representation of the Heisenberg Effect, which is defined as “The very act of becoming a player changes the game being played.” The show gives us a complete arc of Heisenberg reaching the peak of his business and his gradual downfall, a consequence of some of his irreversible mistakes.

These errors are also known as “Tragic Flaw” in English literature, while this whole arc of reaching his peak and then downfall because of tragic flaw is referred to as the graph of Hamartia.

In Chernobyl too, we get to see the character development of Valery Legasov played by Jared Harris. He chooses to not say what he is supposed to but says what was the truth in the final episode. In the movie, he stated “What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all,” also showing us the theme of character development.

The same character development is followed in Spaceman as well, where Jakub doesn’t realize how bad of a human being he has been towards his wife. His interaction with Hanus makes him realize that he has been too focused on his goals, doing wrong by his wife.

However, the movie also has some flaws, like the low backstory and screen time of Lenka, Jakub’s wife. Along with that, we never got to know if Hanus was real or Jakub’s imagination, which was indeed what people wanted to know.

The movie ends rather abruptly and I feel that adding a scene of him coming back home and making things right with his family could have been a better conclusion. Overall, if you are looking for a self-help movie that makes you think out loud and shed a tear by the end credits, Spaceman is worth a watch. However, if you are looking for a classic sci-fi experience, Dune 2 and worm-like popcorn buckets await you at IMAX.

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