‘Spaceman’ Review: Should You Watch Adam Sandler’s New Netflix Movie?

The latest Adam Sandler movie, Spaceman, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?

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Spaceman Netflix Adam Sandler Movie Review

Picture: Netflix

An official selection of the Berlin International Film Festival, Spaceman is the latest Netflix film starring lead actor Adam Sandler, who has 12 Netflix Originals under his belt as an actor and a few more as a producer under his Happy Madison Productions banner.

Based on the 2017 novel “Spaceman of Bohemia” by Jaroslav Kalfar, the film stars Sandler as astronaut Jakub Prochazka, a man from the Czech countryside who rose through the ranks to become the country’s most important astronaut to date.

When a solo mission to a mysterious cloud in the outer reaches of Jupiter offers him both the chance at the spotlight to erase his family’s failures, and a way to escape his own problems on the ground, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka (Maestro star Carey Mulligan), whose love he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions.

Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of a Nutella-like hazelnut spread, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Together, they must sort through Jakub’s struggles in life & love and get back to what matters most before it’s too late.

Alongside The Sandman & Mulligan, the cast features Italian acting icon Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her) as Commissioner Tuma, The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar as Peter, Lena Olin (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Alias) as Zdena, You’re So Not Invited To My Bar Mitzvah lead Sunny Sandler, & Dumb Money star Paul Dano as the voice of Hanus the Spider.

Helmed by music video, commercial, & episodic television director Johan Renck (Chernobyl) on a script from Colby Day, Spaceman takes us on an introspective journey through the life choices we make and the ripple effects of those choices over time. While it may get compared to more notable versions of this such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ad Astra, or potentially even the more comedic Defending Your Life, the film is far more straightforward & tortured than its peers, which is a wild statement with an actor like Sandler in its lead.

This science fiction drama feels the weight of the story increase along its running time as we learn more about Jakub’s distant relationship with his pregnant wife, his complicated childhood, & his selfish, closed off tendencies that have plagued him his whole life. Playing in muted tones, measured speech, & dramatic scoring, the film forces you to recalibrate your mind & expectations of what you may have thought a movie with Adam Sandler talking to a spider in space may have been.

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SPACEMAN. Adam Sandler as Jakub in Spaceman. Cr. Jon Pack/Netflix © 2023.

On the positive side, Renck’s direction & use of mood and atmosphere sets the stage well for the life examination to come. The beauty in the film’s final act can only be accomplished by tearing the film down the studs and letting the claustrophobic therapy sessions between Jakub & Hanus get into our heads & hearts. Renck’s abilities extend to the ground as well, and some of the more impactful scenes in the film’s earlier acts belong to the more contentious moments between Carey Mulligan’s Lenka and the people in her life desperately trying to get her back on track with Jakub in his restless, unraveling state.

However, the content & lack of compulsion may render this far more basic & disposable than the unique story description may lead you to believe. The film feels gutted at times, not going too deep into Jakub’s past and passively looking at what Lenka was trying to find in her husband over the years. Moments like Lenka walking through the bare structure of Jakub’s childhood home barely register as the film leans more on fragments of flashbacks to try to flesh out their history.

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SPACEMAN. Adam Sandler as Jakub in Spaceman. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

Unlike Eternal Sunshine, where they utilized their unique plot device to truly analyze moments in their lead characters’ lives together and give us a front-row seat to the autopsy of their relationship, Spaceman feels content ambling along in quiet contemplation, ruminating on puzzle pieces that don’t fully come together. The film has the effect of a short film stretched too far without enough substance to back its claim.

Overall, Spaceman has the bones of a good story with messaging worth exploring, but doesn’t quite give its audience enough (besides plenty of off-brand Nutella) to make it as memorable as its peers in the subgenre. Solid performances from Sandler, Mulligan, & Rossellini along with the dulcet & composed voice work from Paul Dano as Hanus the Spider cannot elevate the movie from more than adequate.

Watch Spaceman on Netflix If You Liked

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Ad Astra
  • Defending Your Life
  • The Midnight Sky

MVP of Spaceman on Netflix

Paul Dano as the voice of Hanus the Spider

One of the film’s finer points is the calm & collected delivery system for Sandler’s Jakub character’s epiphanies. That system comes in the form of the more whispered yet poignant work of Paul Dano as the voice of Hanus the Spider.

Dano’s soft approach allows us to lower our shoulders and open our minds as an alien spider slowly works its magic into unlocking the mystery of Jakub’s faults & fears as he ventures further away from the problems he needs to confront the most.

The range & presence of Dano has been slowly evolving over the years to an impressive degree. From his impressive early returns in films like Little Miss Sunshine to quickly turning out elite supporting performances in classics like There Will Be Blood, Dano has evolved even further, working in big-budget IP (The Batman) and the biggest directors around (The Fabelmans, Okja). He’s the perfect Swiss Army knife actor that any movie would and should happily use.


It’s a weird day when you say “I expected a lot more from a serious Adam Sandler movie”, but his track record forces it so. Not even backstory & chemistry to rise to the prestige of Sandler’s past successes and their peers in unique life-examining relationship dramas.

Written by

Andrew Morgan is a film critic & podcaster with 20 years of experience on the sets & offices of film & television. Current podcast host of the entertainment review show, Recent Activity. He lives in the Northeast of the United States.

 Poster Rating: R
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Johan Renck
Cast: Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Paul Dano
Added to Netflix: March 1st, 2024

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