Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Astronaut”: Adam Sandler and a giant talking spider in space!

  • The film will debut on Netflix on March 1 “Astronaut” with Adam Sandler based on the book “Czech Astronaut” by Jaroslav Kalfař.
  • Played by Adam Sandler Astronaut Jakub sets off on a lonely research mission to the edge of the solar system. After six months, he realizes that when he returns to Earth, his marriage to Lenka (Carey Mulligan) may no longer exist. He decides to repair his relationship, and is helped by a mysterious creature hiding inside the ship – Hanuš (voiced by Paul Dano).
  • In the production, next to Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan, we will also see: Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin and Isabella Rossellini.

There are more non-obvious things here. The production is based on the science fiction book “Czech Astronaut” by Jaroslav Kalfař. Interestingly, he originally wrote it in English and only later was it translated into his native language. It is a story about the lonely mission of the first Czech astronaut, Jakub Procházka, whose goal is to explore a mysterious cloud. And what is important, before the South Koreans, because these are the times of the space race of world powers. The hero of the film, played by Sandler, has the status of a national hero. He regularly speaks to schools and workplaces from his ship, promotes Czechoslovak technological ideas, and his daily conversations with his wife Lenka (played by Carey Mulligan) give him strength for all this.

However, the situation becomes more complicated when the woman finally loses patience and decides to end the (long) distance relationship. This, however, would jeopardize the success of the mission, which Procházka’s superiors, not to mention party dignitaries, cannot allow. The lack of contact with Lenka worries Jakub more and more, and this mixture of disorientation and fear deepens when it turns out that he has a companion in the spaceship. This way we meet Hanuš (Paul Dano), a giant spider who speaks with a human voice. The question remains whether it is proof that we are not alone in this galaxy or whether it is perhaps a product of the hero’s increasingly drifting imagination.

This significantly sets the tone of the entire film. As a result, “The Astronaut” is not even the slightest impressive story about the conquest of space, but rather a story about loneliness, longing and the meanders of the troubled human mind. The production was directed by Johan Renck, known for his work on the series “Chernobyl”but also implementation music videos for David Bowie and Madonna, is an example of contemplative science fiction. Which, at least in principle, was supposed to be closer to “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) Stanley Kubrick or “Solaris” (2002) Steven Soderbergh. However, as is usually the case with theory…

A strong pointquite uneven and, unfortunately, monotonous at times “The Astronaut” is Adam Sandler in the role of the title character. An actor who for the vast majority of his career was associated only with a comedic face – from the popular show Saturday Night Live to the classics of the 90s such as “Lucky Gilmore” (1996) or “Career of a Nerd” (1998). And although directors slowly began to notice his dramatic side, it seems that the breakthrough came only a few years ago thanks to “The Story of the Meyerowitz Family” (2017) by Noah Baumbach, but above all, the phenomenal main role in “Uncut Diamonds” (2019) by the Safdie brothers .

“Astronaut” is another proof that this is a direction worth investing in. Even in situations where his playing partner is… a large spider. By the way, this is probably the most non-obvious one, though an interesting choice in Paul Dano’s acting career. It may be hard to imagine, but Carey Mulligan is the weakest herewith suffering written on his face, it is not known whether it was caused by a serious crisis in his relationship or life in a communist country.

“Astronaut” is far from any breakthrough. However, it is closer to a quite solid production that uses the staffage of the science fiction genre to talk about several universal values. And these are very earthly ones. If we don’t have excessively high expectations, Renck’s film ultimately holds up. This cinema was created with a very wide range of viewers in mind. Maybe except for those suffering from arachnophobia.


“Astronaut” (“Spaceman”), dir. Johan Renck, USA 2024, Netflix premiere: March 1, 2024.