A movie that flew under the radar, well atleast for me since I hadn’t heard of it & only found about it by clicking on a link in wikipedia, is Space Station 76. Directed by Jack Plotnick, and co-written by Plotnick, Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Kali Rocha, and Michael Stoyanov it is a science fiction black comedy created as both a tribute to and in the form of the 1970s vision of what the future will look like. The movie stars Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Kylie Rogers, Kali Rocha and Jerry O’Connell. Rather than a crew on a mission or fighting danger it’s more a 1970s time period drama and focuses on the issues that were big back then. The clothing, sets, technology and even the wardrobe & hairstyles reflect that era.
Lt. Jessica Marlow is the new officer on board Space Station 76 (although they call it a spaceship most of the time) which is a deep space station somewhere far in the future. Most of humanity has left earth, some humans haven’t even seen earth. Jessica meets the station’s captain, a dour and alcoholic Glenn who just wants to be left alone and avoids much contact. Jessica takes over the job previous held by Daniel who has left the station but no one knows the real reason he decides to take a transfer – Glenn tells some people it was due to a family emergency and to others, like Jessica he said it was a promotion. Among the other residents are Ted, the mechanic and his catty wife Misty and their adorable young daughter Sunshine. Also on board are Steve, the playboy doctor & his snooty socialite wife Donna who has no idea that he is cheating on her with Valium popping Misty.
Jessica finds her welcome a bit strained especially by Misty who resents the fact that her daughter seems to be bonding with the new officer. Jessica and Sunshine spend a lot of their spare time together, especially in the arboretum where Ted is also growing some plants. There is also a deep attraction between Ted & Jessica but they seem to be keeping it control. Sunshine is an adorable & precocious girl who enjoys spending time in zero gravity with her father, as long as Misty doesn’t find out. Misty has secret sex meetings with Steve in between being catty to Jessica and participating in sessions with the stations councellor – an old toy robot is programmed to recite certain phrases & sentences in a fake cheerful voice based on the last word that the patient says. Misty lies to Sunshine as she finds Jessica’s adoration on the girl growing in order to create a distance between them. Captain Glenn meanwhile tries to contact Daniel and we find out the real reason he left; the two were in a homosexual affair one that Glenn couldn’t be open about and was emotionally inept to live with. This drove away Daniel who took transfer as soon as he got promoted. Ted who is sexually frustrated has visions of a nude woman floating out in space and her face is soon replaced by that of Jessica as the two grow closer. Misty is also upset at the fact that Steve is leaving for a bigger station along with Donna, who seemingly rubs everyone else nose in that fact that they are moving “up”, and their baby.
Things come to a head at the Christmas party where Misty, jealous of Ted & Jessica’s growing closeness, basically lets out that she & Steve are sleeping together and that she never had an orgasm before. She then turns her ire on Jessica who shouts at her and Glenn comes to the former’s defence and calls doubts on Jessica’s gender. Jessica in turn blurts out Glenn’s secret that he is a homosexual which stuns the rest of the crowd. Suddenly the station is hit by a passing asteroid which does little damage to the station but destroys the docked shuttle in which all of Steve’s & Donna’s belongings were. As people get about recovering from the shoutfest, Jessica joins Ted in the arboretum where they both lie down next to each other & Sunshine, upset at the death of a frozen dog that Jessica has got for her but which Misty claimed as her own gift to Sunshine, goes to her quarters and floats in zero gravity. Steve and Donna will have to mend their marriage while Glenn goes for a drink with the shuttle’s pilot, who we assume is also gay. We are left to assume that Ted & Jessica will get together and live with Sunshine.
A goofy, humourous oddball movie which has it’s own charm. It’s funny to see the 70s style look of the space station and it’s technology – toy robots, VHS tapes, small box tv monitors, 60s Trek & 70s Star Wars style buttons and gizmos and the outfits – in a 2014 movie. I would say that whether you are a scifi fan or not, you will enjoy this film. I give it a 7.5 outta 10.