Don’t Come Back from the Moon is a new drama co-written and directed by Bruce Thierry Chung and based on the book by Dean Bakopoulos. It is about a small desert town in which all of the fathers abandon their children and wives one by one, leaving their children to turn to crime as they come of age.
No matter what the title and artwork may imply, this isn’t a dystopian sci-fi film. No, it’s much more implausible than that. In the movie, every single father seems to have left the town. This is almost certainly the writers using hyperbole to show an issue that affects our society greatly, but having the issue present to this extent is over-the-top and distracting.
The film does have an emotional foundation, but it is damaged by the fact that the story is so unbelievable. It is hard not to feel sympathy for the characters due to the situation in which they find themselves, especially if you come from a family that has experienced divorce or separation. However, had the movie been a bit more subtle, it would have been far more effective.
The characters are all rather annoying. There isn’t much development put into anyone, and as such, it is hard to form connections apart from the aforementioned basic sympathy. Some of the supporting characters even blend together because they are so indistinctly written. However, the biggest issue with the film is that the protagonist is written just as blandly. He has no defining characteristics or personality, and as such, isn’t at all compelling.
The movie also struggles in developing its subplots. The main plot — the children coping with their fathers leaving town — isn’t particularly well-written, but at least it’s cohesive. A romantic subplot involving the protagonist feels largely underdeveloped, and a romantic subplot involving his mother feels completely unnecessary. Neither of these storylines adds much to the film.
The movie has a strong ensemble, but unfortunately, they are underused. James Franco is the biggest name in the cast, but he only has three or four scenes in the film. Granted, they are some of the best scenes, but his talent is pretty much wasted. Rashida Jones is another pretty well-known name, and she has a larger role, but still feels underused. The lead actor, Jeffrey Wahlberg, just can’t act very well. His delivery is very flat and uninteresting.
In technical terms, the movie isn’t particularly impressive either. The visuals are mostly bland and dark. They aren’t particularly pleasing to look at. The editing by Joe Murphy has a few interesting quirks, but more often that not, it was distracting rather than supportive of the story. The score by Johnny Jewel is pretty solid, but mostly forgettable.
Overall, Don’t Come Back from the Moon wastes its talented cast on a lackluster script. It isn’t unwatchable, but there isn’t anything about it that makes it an urgent watch.
Don’t Come Back from the Moon is in select theaters and on demand beginning January 18.