When we think of the future now, it’s not all that different from what people imagined almost 50 years ago. Flying cars, space stations, and robots control everything we do, but our future looks a bit more shiny. The commonality between decades of similar thinking, is the fact that we thought we’d have all that by now. Gone are the days of white plastic ruling the world, as helper robots threatened to overthrow us. However, I think it’s worth a trip back in time, just to see what it would be like.
Far out, in the outer reaches of space, Space Station 76 is sort of just floating around, waiting for something to happen. Captain Glenn (Patrick Wilson) is a struggling alcoholic, coping with the fact that he’s different than others. Ted (Matt Bomer) is a mechanic who spends his time trying to please his depressed wife, Misty (Marisa Coughlan), and caring for his daughter Sunshine (Kylie Rogers. The atmosphere is quite dull on the ship, until something changes and a beautiful new woman arrives on the Space Station.
The arrival of Jessica (Liv Tyler) on the Space Station uneases some passengers, while others find themselves enjoying this new company. Immediately, Ted and Jessica hit it off and end up spending valuable time together and it helps that Jessica loves caring for Sunshine. Meanwhile, Misty is off galavanting with Steve (Jerry O’Connell), who’s pregnant wife Donna (Kali Rocha) is becoming a handful. At the end of the day, the robotic Dr. Bot (Michael Stoyanov) is there for council, as all these passengers feel a sense of isolation on this never-ending journey.
Space Station 76 harkens back to a day-and-age when man had a specific view of what the future was going to look like. Everything was going to be bright white, possibly made of plastic, and there would be tons of futuristic technology! Essentially, it’s what the people of the 70’s thought the 2000’s would look like and my word is it glorious. The film isn’t perfect, but it does have a nostalgic vibe going for it that’s only amplified by a wonderful cast that plays each role with sincerity. There really is a lot to love in this small film and I certainly hope that it’s one that finds its way to the masses, one way or another.
Patrick Wilson’s Captain is a far more complex character than we could imagine, as he’s one dealing with his own homosexuality and how he assumes people will perceive him. Filmed like a movie that would take place in the 70’s, Wilson’s character would be an outcast and he plays the character with a sincerity that almost hurts. The way he acts is odd, but he offers so much more depth to his character and we really get to see a new side of Wilson that’s wonderful. Equally as great, Matt Bomer’s struggling father is a character that’s incredibly easy to understand. He really cares about his family and their safety, most importantly the happiness of his daughter. Often, he puts everyone else’s happiness first and gets very little appreciation in return, making sure we see that in his eyes and the gloomy looks he makes.
Liv Tyler brings a strong female presence to this film, encompassing a character that’s left alone in space without much of anything. She’s never seen Earth and she only knows one way of life. She almost lives vicariously through Rogers and the two share some truly beautiful moments. Tyler works extremely well with Bomer, always unsure of her advances and flashing that all-consuming smile. Rogers is a young talent in the making, absolutely dominating her screen time and making you love her character more with every second. She’s curious and alone on this Space Station and she’s only looking to have fun with people who see her as a person, and not a liability. Marisa Coughlan is frustratingly good as a depressed wife who has zero purpose in her life, evident by her many deep conversations with a robot. She is always scheming and looking to kill happiness because she can’t find any.
Director Jack Plotnick does an exceptional job of capturing what the 70’s were like, focusing on the large and small aspects of what life would be like. It’s clear that there’s a lot of himself in this film, as much of the film is spent exploring the crew members and their personal lives. Plotnick also created a hilarious character within Dr. Bot and how humans perceived the idea of robots. The set design is flawless and the effects would be laughable, were it not the intention to make them so. Watching this film made me feel like I was revisiting a lost episode of Star Trek, except I enjoyed this far more. Plotnick really cares about authenticity on all levels and it certainly shows.
It’s been a while since I felt so attached to characters I barely knew. Getting a glimpse into their lives was incredible and were it not for the 90-minute run time, I would have spent much longer getting to know them. Notably, I felt like Jerry O’Connell and Kali Rocha were given the most typical roles, not receiving the same level of exploration as the other cast members. It’s easy to classify them in the film and they don’t do much past making you a bit furious. This is another case of a film being “too short”, in my opinion, as I felt there was a lot left unresolved in the end and I wanted a bit more from the film.
Space Station 76 is a refreshing throwback to a time that was simpler in it’s look and feel, but still very complex within the lives of its characters and the world (or ship) that they inhabited. There are some truly wonderful performances in this film that make the film worth a watch, outside of needing to watch it due to nostalgia. This film has passion written all over it and the complete 70’s-ification of everything is too much fun. I did want more time on Space Station 76, but I quite enjoyed the time spent on it!
Space Station 76 Trailer