The Space Between Us Parent Review

This young man's quest does offer strong messages about the importance of family -- although it also detours into rebellious behavior and teen sexuality.

Overall B-

A young man (Asa Butterfield) raised on Mars virtually meets a pretty girl (Britt Robertson) on Earth. The two finally see each other face-to-face when the boy returns to his home planet determined to find his father.

Violence C+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity B
Substance Use B+

The Space Between Us is rated PG-13 for brief sensuality and language.

Movie Review

Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) has the distinction of being the first human born on Mars – but his existence is strictly classified. That’s because his conception was the result of his mother’s (Janet Montgomery) irresponsible behavior. While preparing for a long-term space mission, the single woman became pregnant. But her condition wasn’t discovered until she was well on her way to the Red Planet. Once there, she delivered the boy and promptly died. Afraid the embarrassing and tragic affair would blemish the sponsor company’s image and negatively influence further funding, Genesis’ founder Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) decided it was best to keep the child a secret.

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Sixteen years have passed since then, and Gardner has spent that time in a man-made settlement on Mars, watching various astronauts come and go. His education has been provided by these scientists, along with old movies and archival videos he accesses from the community’s computers. His only steady companion is a robot (voice of Peter Chelsom). The closest thing to a parent he’s got is Kendra (Carla Gugino), a visiting astronaut who’s taken a motherly interest in his welfare. And his only real friend is Tulsa (Britt Robertson), a girl from Earth whom he secretly met on-line.

More than anything, Gardner wants to leave the constraints of his lonely life and see the Blue Planet for himself. He’s also yearning to identify his father, who is there, somewhere. Yet the chances of realizing these dreams aren’t great. First, because introducing him to the world means Genesis would have to confess to their cover-up. And second, because Mars’s light gravity hasn’t allowed his body to grow strong enough to live on Earth. Then a miracle happens. An experimental surgery (portrayed with some blood) gives his bones extra reinforcement. And he gets permission to travel to Earth, although his arrival must still be kept quiet.

Gardner is happy to comply – until the doctors at the Kennedy Space Center order a list of mandatory medical tests so long he fears he has just exchanged one prison for another. Taking control of his own destiny, the rebellious teen escapes, finds his way to a surprised Tulsa, and talks her into helping him find his long-lost Dad.

Both a fish-out-of-water tale and an adolescent romance, Gardner and Tulsa’s road trip provides the first-time visitor with a lot of humorous opportunities to marvel at the world’s ordinary wonders. It involves a fair amount of lying, stealing (cars and airplanes), destroying property and evading authorities as well – most of which are portrayed as consequence free. While on the run, the pair even squeezes in time to explore a sexual relationship (we see the presumably-naked couple cuddling and kissing in a shared sleeping bag).

Although billed as a sci-fi, not much attention is paid to such details. The world of the future shown here is limited to some fancy (and impractical) laptops and one autonomous car. The science is pure fiction in its portrayals of real-time, inter-planetary communications. And there are a few basic facts about reproduction that these supposedly “intelligent” characters really ought to have known.

However, if you are willing to overlook these and a few other obvious flaws, Gardner’s quest does offer strong messages about the importance of connection and family. Tulsa, a foster child, is also longing for these things. It seems no matter how exotic the place you are from may be, there is still a universal desire to close the space between where one is and where one belongs.

Directed by Peter Chelsom. Starring Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, Gary Oldman. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release February 3, 2017. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Space Between Us here.

The Space Between Us Parents Guide

In this movie, an astronaut comments on the statement: “Courage is to take risk without fear.” She says: “Real courage is to take risk despite fear.” How do you feel about the difference between these ideas? Do you feel it is important to face the fears in your life?

Why does the space exploration company and its founder lie about their astronaut’s pregnancy and Gardner’s birth? How do they justify the cover up? What are their underlying motives? Who do you think they are trying to protect? How might a person get caught up in the same sort of logic in their life? Should dishonesty be rationalized this way?

What problems might face a baby born in space? Here is an article about some of the experiments that have been done to answer that question:

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