Pace problems: Adam Sandler is fine in Netflix’s ‘Spaceman,’ but the direction is sloooow

Adam Sandler plays a distraught astronaut dumped by his wife halfway into a Jupiter mission in Spaceman, one of the strangest cinematic misfires you are likely to see this year—or in any year.

Sandler gives it his all as Jakub, who is quite somber after his pregnant wife (Carey Mulligan) leaves him. This is an allegory, of sorts, for when your spouse or partner is supremely pissed at you, but your cell phone has no service, and you can’t do shit in the form of communicative remedies.

Shortly after getting ghosted by his wife, Jakub starts seeing a big-assed fucking spider (voiced by, of course, Paul Dano) in his space vehicle. Is the spider a hallucination? Is it real and perhaps his future best friend? Director Johan Renck keeps that notion ambiguous. Yes, the spider might be some sort of supernatural ancient entity haunting Jakub, but it could also be the biproduct of supreme depression, the rigors of space travel, and way too may sleep aids.

At first glance, this premise looked like a home run to me, because it’s so nuts that it has to work. Well, it doesn’t, thanks to Renck’s pacing, which is slower than an elephant after 20 harsh bong rips. This one is slow, slow, slow, and the pace diminishes interest in the story. On top of that, Renck opts for some visually irritating techniques for flashbacks.

In other words, this is an interesting premise in the hands of the wrong director. Had this been directed by, say, Paul Thomas Anderson (his name comes to mind due to the There Will Be Blood/Dano connection), perhaps the weirdness of the premise being played straight could’ve been less discordant, and without a valium-drenched vibe.

Sandler’s performance is fine, but Spaceman ultimately lets him down. I’ll say this, though: Going forward, the spiders constantly chasing me in my dreams will most likely be voiced by Paul Dano.

Spaceman is now streaming on Netflix.

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