"Spaceman" is a strangely moving swing for both Sandler and Netflix

Spaceman (2024)

If A24 made a film with Adam Sandler talking to a giant spider in space, it might look something like the strangely moving and thoughtful "Spaceman." That will be either be a bug or a feature to audiences expecting a certain kind of delivery system from the Sandman, but there’s no denying that this is a big swing, particularly for Netflix. 

Six months into his solo journey, Czech cosmonaut Commander Jakub Prochazka (Sandler) is headed toward Jupiter and the Chopra cloud in hopes of unraveling the mysteries of the universe. His pregnant wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), is back on Earth, and while Jakub has not heard from her, she has already left him a message, telling Jakub that she is leaving him. The higher-ups on the ground, however, have decided not to pass the message along. In a state of cabin fever and isolation, Jakub finds a giant spider locked in the bowels of his ship. He panics, thinking he has lost his mind, but the spider means him no harm. It calls him “Skinny Human” and hopes that its presence can lessen his solitude. 

As written by Colby Day (based on Jaroslav Kalfar’s book "Spaceman of Bohemia") and directed by Johan Renck, "Spaceman" is not a traditional space saga or even science fiction per se, but a journey of self. Somber and melancholy, this is more of a ruminative character study that just happens to be primarily set on a spacecraft, exploring loneliness and self-examination. Despite not taking on a Czech accent (and it was probably for the best), Sandler is restrained and stripped-down in a beautifully fine-tuned performance as the loneliest man in the world. Rather than acting with himself and only himself à la Matt Damon in "The Martian," Sandler gets to play opposite an animated spider. As soothingly voiced by Paul Dano, the spider (which Jakub later names “Hanuš”) is eventually unthreatening. For a leggy, six-eyed creature (and the visual effects are quite tactile), Hanuš actually looks awfully cuddly with Dano’s gentle voice and a big jar of Czech-branded Nutella. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: B +

Netflix released "Spaceman" (108 min.) in select theaters on February 23, 2024, followed by a streaming release on March 1, 2024.