Imagine if you were given the opportunity to get a brand new start in life, but all you would have to do is join the world’s first attempt to live on Mars. Red Rover, a film directed by Shane Belcourt, puts its main character in this very situation. Damon (Kristian Bruun) spends his waking hours searching for something new in his life. Whether it’s discovering a deeper meaning, love, or just treasure on the beach with his metal detector. Unfortunately, he’s had a difficult time since his girlfriend Beatrice (Meghan Heffern) broke up with him. When all seems lost, Damon meets an offbeat musician named Phoebe (Cara Gee) handing out flyers for a one way trip to Mars. The two quickly form a bond, which leads to her helping Damon find that thing he is looking for by sending him 33.9 million miles away, even though what he needs might be right in front of him.
I was really surprised by the premise of the film. A trip to Mars to get a brand new start on life is obviously too good to be true, but one can help to wonder what it really would be like. The film isn’t really backed by any scientific sources, or at least none that I noticed, which calls for viewers to suspend their disbelief. But regardless of this, I was excited to see how the premise would be carried out. It brought on a sense of nostalgia since I was always fascinated with space travel when I was younger. Though the premise itself isn’t something relatively new since it’s been seen in films like Garden State and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However, adding the opportunity for space travel is enough to make a played-out premise seem important again.
However, it’s also because of the film’s premise that I wasn’t surprised that the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG) trope would be used as well. For those who aren’t familiar with the trope, it describes a girl who solely exists to teach men to embrace life and all it has to offer. In the case of Red Rover, Phoebe would act as the MPDG who’s responsible for saving Damon. I’ve come to dislike films that rely too heavily on this trope, much like Red Rover. Damon does become his own person and stands up for himself by the end of the film, but it’s only because of Phoebe’s help. The film would’ve had a bigger impact had Phoebe be given a different role.
Above all else, Red Rover was at times difficult to watch because of how Damon’s character was written and the situation he was living in. I understand that the film needed to portray him as someone who had hit rock bottom and had nothing left to lose, but it may have taken things too far. It’s almost as if Red Rover gave me no choice but to root for his character. I understand that the point was to root for him, but the way the film presented his dilemmas was over-exaggerated. One bad thing after another happening to one character becomes comical rather than bringing out a feeling of empathy towards him.
Overall, Red Rover’s plot was simple and enjoyable, but simply saying that a film is enjoyable doesn’t mean the film isn’t flawed. While the premise took a more unique approach, several other elements weren’t enough to define this as a good film. The use of the MPDG trope in this film immediately took away any appreciation for Damon and Phoebe’s bond throughout the film. It was adorable, don’t get me wrong, but it felt completely fabricated for the plot’s purpose. Ultimately, Damon’s portrayal took me out of the film at times because of how forced it was made to root for him. I expected much more from this film but it ended up being disappointing.
Red Rover is set to be released on May 12th wherever films are sold.
Red Rover’s plot was simple and enjoyable, but simply saying that a film is enjoyable doesn’t mean the film isn’t flawed. While the premise took a more unique approach, several other elements weren’t enough to define this as a good film. The use of the MPDG trope in this film immediately took away any appreciation for Damon and Phoebe’s bond throughout the film.