Cast: James Franco, Rashida Jones, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Alyssa Elle Steinacker
Director: Bruce Thierry Cheung
For the most part, every movie you watch has a purpose or reason why it was made. For some it’s to prove a point or teach a valuable lesson to the audience through groundbreaking while others are there for the sake of making money at the expense of quality. With Don’t Come Back from the Moon, I’m not exactly sure which end of the spectrum it lies on. As an on-demand release, I don’t think this movie was made to bust any box office records. At the same time, I don’t really know what this movie is trying to say. I have a general idea of the themes and metaphors, but at the same time with a 98 minute runtime there isn’t enough time to truly showcase these ideas. An interesting and heartbreaking concept, but Don’t Come Back from the Moon doesn’t take the next step to be a great movie.
The film follows the Smalley family who lives in a society where the married men suddenly walk out on their families, which is casually nicknamed, “going to the moon.” When the father Roman (Franco) is the next man in town to walk out on his family, her husband Eva (Jones) and their two children must cope with their situation and create a new society without the presence of their husbands and fathers. While the film may list Franco and Jones as the top-billing actors of the movie, much of the focus is on the kids and how they handle this drastic change. Personally, I really liked this as it showcases just how impactful the presence of a father-figure is on a developing young adult and what happens to them when that figure is removed from their lives. I’m not 100% sure if this movie is trying to comment on the issue of the divorce rate within American families, but if it is, then it does so in a silent yet powerful way that beautifully conveys the point. However this uncertainty also ends up being one of the movie’s biggest flaws. The fact that I’m not sure what the point of the movie is can make it hard to interpret or relate. Let’s say I’m wrong about the issue this film is trying to discuss. Then what is the purpose of the movie? To show a world without men? We’ve seen that movie before. For a film that has some big names in it but isn’t getting a nationwide release, there has to be some sort of deeper meaning for it be accepted in more critical circles. If it didn’t try to tell a bigger message than what it’s premise sets up, then why would you make the movie in the first place? Maybe there’s a different point and I’m just not seeing it, but for what we got, Don’t Come Back from the Moon is thought-provoking, unique, and entertaining. I usually don’t have a whole lot of expectations for VOD releases, but this seems to be one of the exceptions as it shows us the power of family and also the stress of parenthood all wrapped up in a tight 98 minute runtime.
Overall, maybe the themes could’ve been developed a little bit more to keep the movie less ambiguous, but Don’t Come Back from the Moon does a solid job of showing what I assume is the point of the movie. This isn’t a particularly fun movie to watch as it deals with some relatively dark themes and ideas, but ultimately this movie is a reflection of reality set in an absurd environment. I hope we never see the day where the events of this movie become real, but for some people out there, they already live a version of this life without having the serenity of an environment to discuss their feelings and that makes this movie that much more powerful.
Overall Score: 7/10