VOTI METACRITIC (/100):
75 – RogerEbert.com Matt Zoller Seitz
Calling Space Station 76 a spoof of 1970s science fiction doesn’t do the trick. It’s quiet, slow movie that’s often funny, sometimes sad, and occasionally uncomfortable.
70 – Variety Joe Leydon
Aiming more for bemused chuckles than for convulsive laughter, Plotnick and his actors deftly evoke a faux Me Decade ambiance throughout Space Station 76.
70 – The Dissolve Keith Phipps
Plotnick’s mix of straight-faced absurdity and unexpected poignance doesn’t always gel, but it also makes the film more resonant than a straightforward spoof could ever be, and adds another layer to the film’s central joke: You can take to the stars, but the past will always travel with you.
60 – The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore
Though it doesn’t quite hit the target, Plotnick’s vision of the future of the past is peculiar enough to resist quick dismissal.
58 – The Playlist William Goss
There’s no denying the lovingly recreated production and costume design, all curved corners and wide lapels, and the era’s sexual politics and self-help movement are slyly incorporated as well… However, the droll humor on hand is more hit-or-miss.
50 – Village Voice Alan Scherstuhl
Sympathetic audiences may be diverted by Space Station 76’s period design and skilled performances, and by the mystery of what exactly the filmmakers are going for. (The less sympathetic may just ask what the point is.)
50 – TheWrap James Rocchi
The film’s look and feel are far more purposeful and propulsive than the story and script, but even so, Space Station 76 has more than a few laughs inside its brazen bizarreness.
50 – The New York Times Nicolas Rapold
Not that Dr. Bot and the oblivious self-righteousness won’t delight certain fans, but this remains a protracted, scattershot comedy sketch that never quite nails its tone.
At first, it seems like the one-joke premise of Space Station 76 will get old quickly: It’s a sci-fi comedy set on a space station in 1976 — or, rather, a space station as might have been envisioned by filmmakers in 1976. So the characters all wear loud ’70s fashions, smoke and drink incessantly, hold outdated views about gender and sexuality, and work with technology that ceased being futuristic by the ’80s (VCRs, clunky robots that spout prerecorded responses, cryogenics). Adapting his own stage play, director and co-writer Jack Plotnick effectively makes fun of plenty of sci-fi conventions, from the computer voice that narrates everything happening on the ship (“Door closing;” “Door opening”), to the superfluous crew member whose “job” is programming the food processor (which has buttons with pre-printed pictures of food on them). But after about 20 minutes, the joke starts wearing thin, and you might wonder what’s left for the 90-minute movie to accomplish.
The answer, surprisingly, is quite a bit. Plotnick, an actor and acting coach making his directorial debut, worked his connections to assemble a strong cast that includes Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and Marisa Coughlan, and they manage to imbue their characters with far more than just jokey personalities. Plotnick knows his ’70s sci-fi, but the movie is equally interested in the decade’s suburban ennui, with characters who deal with repressed emotions, drug habits, and self-help fads. Space Station 76 turns out to be quite poignant in its examination of loneliness and dissatisfaction, like a cross between the original Battlestar Galactica and The Ice Storm.
Tyler plays the movie’s main character, a capable officer assigned to be the station’s new second-in-command, under Wilson’s Capt. Glenn. Tyler’s Jessica Marlowe is a woman in a man’s world, subject to the kind of condescension and sexual harassment you’d expect from the average ’70s workplace, and it takes a toll on her emotionally. Tyler plays the role straight, like she’s the protagonist in Plotnick’s vision of a retro soap opera, and Bomer, as ship mechanic Ted, does the same, giving their inevitable romantic attraction an authentic feel.
Wilson, so often the personification of blandness, shows some welcome comic chops as Glenn, who’s basically Ron Burgundy as a spaceship captain, with added repressed homosexuality. But even he gets some moments of honest emotion, as he drinks away his pain and pines for his former lover (Glee’s Matthew Morrison in a brief cameo), who left the station after their relationship went sour. Coughlan gets the main cast’s most comedic role, as Ted’s manipulative, drug-addicted wife Misty, and she also gets some of the funniest lines in her sessions with robo-therapist Dr. Bot, which looks like a toy a kid would have gotten for Christmas in 1976 and promptly grown bored of.
With set design and costumes that impeccably replicate the look of vintage sci-fi, as well as CGI effects that look like old-fashioned miniatures, the movie gets a lot of mileage out of its small budget, although it seems to have run low when it came to casting extras (the station is strangely underpopulated, which might also be a product of the movie’s stage origins). Eventually, the conceit does get a little tired, and the character arcs wrap up in relatively uninspired ways. But for the most part, Space Station 76 succeeds by thoroughly buying into its own premise, faithfully depicting the absurd lives of ’70s suburbanites living on a useless space station. (Josh Bell; filmracket.com – VOTO: 3,5/5)
By Greg Hernandez, 31/12/14 (greginhollywood.com)
When it came time to cast the feature film Space Station 76, writer-director Jack Plotnick says he did not even think about real-life sexual orientation when casting straight Patrick Wilson as gay and gay Matt Bomer as straight.
‘I was just focused totally on my incredible respect and admiration for Patrick Wilson and Matt Bomer as actors,’ Plotnick told The Backlot in an interview posted Tuesday.
‘I think they’re both flawless and both so perfect for the roles they played. I never thought, “Well, that character’s gay so it better be played by a gay guy.” But at the same time I have no issues whatsoever with casting a gay man in a straight role, I mean, that would be ludicrous.’
Although he is one of the most famous openly gay actors in television and films, Bomer has only played gay onscreen once and that was this year in The Normal Heart.
In Space Station 76, Bomer plays a spaceship mechanic named Ted who is unhappily married to a woman named Misty. He also has a robotic right hand and an ambition to leave the ship.
Wilson, who had previously played gay in the HBO miniseries Angels in America, plays the ship’s alcoholic captain. He is struggling with his homosexuality and being closeted led to his break up with Daniel (played by Glee’s Matthew Morrison).
‘It’s a surprising role for Patrick in that he doesn’t usually play that type, meaning the character is just less likable than Patrick usually plays,’ Plotnick says. ‘On top of that, it’s such a comedic role for him and I’m so excited for people to see how funny Patrick Wilson is because he is hysterical as a person, as a performer and in this role.
‘But what I love, too, is when I watch his performance, the incredible truth he brings to the role. He finds a way to find show this guy’s heartbreak that is so funny.’