Space Station 76

This is one of those movies where a thumbs up/down review doesn’t work at all. Not because the movie is uneven but because it’s complex. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I truly understood the limitations of rating systems like stars and thumbs and tomatoes until I sat down to watch this story unfold in all its perfect 1970s glory.

I’m convinced that in an earlier era Patrick Wilson would have been an Alan Ladd level movie star (especially after his turn in the second season of Fargo) and he doesn’t disappoint as the deeply closeted captain of 1970s era space station.

Liv Tyler, whom I adore, turns in her usual emotional performance, empathy high beams on the whole time. The space station sets look like they were lifted from Space 1999 and the casual sexism and irresponsible drug use is right on the mark for the time period.

But I wonder if it’s something one has to be of a certain age to truly enjoy. Unlike Spaceballs (a movie I truly despise as being unfunny and boring) which is just prat falls and fart jokes wrapped up in Star Wars costumes, most of the jokes in Space Station 76 hinge on or are enhanced by knowledge of the era it depicts.

Also, because the movie is an emotional roller coaster, it’s hard to give it a simple thumbs up. Parts are very funny, other parts are deeply troubling. The characters are at once fully fleshed out but also 1970s stereotypes. Experiencing this, you get the feeling you’re watching something much more important than it is and that leaves you with a somewhat confused reaction when it’s over.

But I guess a review of any kind boils down to one question: Was it worth watching. My answer to that is emphatically yes.

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