The Inverse Interview

Is Adam Sandler’s New Sci-Fi Movie a Secret Anti-Capitalist Allegory?

“It’s a reflection on the spectacle that is human life in modern days. We are here led to believe that we’re here to buy shit.”

Spaceman movie Adam Sandler
The Inverse Interview

Jakub Procházka is the loneliest man in the galaxy. Played by Adam Sandler in the upcoming movie Spaceman, this Czech astronaut on a high-profile solo mission to the edge of our Solar System feels completely isolated from humanity — and the fact that his wife isn’t answering his calls doesn’t help either. But when a giant, talking spider that he may or may not be hallucinating suddenly shows up on the ship, Sandler’s first reaction isn’t to make friends with the creature (voiced by Paul Dano) but to understandably try to murder it with poison gas.

The only problem? Before mission control can release the anti-germ spray, Jakub needs to recite the company’s tagline.

“Bomba is 99.999 percent effective in killing any and all microbial elements,” Jakub states without a hint of reservation. “Even in space, don’t let germs ruin your day. Bomba, away!”

(The spider survives, leading to a bizarre friendship in which the two bond over Nutella and try to figure out where exactly Jakub’s marriage went wrong.)

There’s a vein of anti-capitalist satire running through Spaceman. In an earlier scene, a press conference featuring Jakub is interrupted by a word from the mission’s corporate sponsor: an anti-nausea pill also promoted by the famous astronaut. In our era of privatized space travel, it’s easy to see Spaceman as a preview of what’s to come, but for director Johan Renck, the film’s message extends far beyond that.

“This is a film about an ambitious man who is existing within the human construct, which is success, progress, growth — stuff that doesn't exist in nature,” Renck tells Inverse. “We're supposed to grow profits when it's something that we have invented. It's a capitalist construct, and whether I'm critical of it or not, I'm living it. I'm part of it. But I still like the idea of shining a light on it because the price of being part of the spectacle and chasing success is always going to be at the cost of your relationship with people who are actually meaningful to you.”

“I don't think there's anybody on the planet who has lost a parent who would say, When I look back at it, I think I spent too much time with my dad,” the director adds.

Adam Sandler stars in Spaceman.


This certainly applies to Sandler’s astronaut, who’s achieved his wildest dreams of leading a historic mission into space at the cost of selling out to drug companies and potentially losing his wife in the process. But while this might read as political parody to some, Renck argues that he’s just reflecting back the reality we all already live in.

“I don't know if it's necessarily critical to capitalism per se, but it is a reflection on the spectacle that is human life in modern days,” he says. “We are here led to believe that we’re here to buy shit. That's all it is.”

Paul Dano describes his character as as “spirit guide” and a “doula” for Sandler’s astronaut.


As for Sandler himself, Spaceman’s star tells Inverse he sees the movie as more of a commentary on the nature of celebrity than capitalism.

“I think it's just about celebrity and the fact that this guy becomes a celebrity and it's important to the mission to make money off the mission to help fund this stuff,” Sandler says. “My character, he's just famous. That's a big part of what he’s become.”

When I pose the same question to Dano he agrees, adding simply that whatever political or economic message Spaceman might have, it’s also just a hilarious concept (if a slightly depressing one).

“I liked the sort of absurdity that you're up there, your survival depends on something, but you still have to say the government-mandated sponsor line before you're able to do something.”

Spaceman will get a limited theatrical release on February 23 before it hits Netflix on March 1.

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