The Space Between, written, directed, and produced by Amy Jo Johnson (who you may recognize as the Pink Power Ranger, Kimberly Hart from the 1990s series), would have been a good book.
On a bright sunny morning, a new father, Mitch, finds out his miracle baby is not actually his. This sudden and unwelcome discovery leads Mitch into an emotional spiral as he sets out in a tiny yellow car to find Danny Baker – the actual father of his daughter. Along the way, Mitch meets a college-aged girl who looks like she’s 13 and together they have emotional breakthroughs and rob a funeral home – sort of. In the meantime Mitch’s wife, Jackie, is simultaneously trying to find him and Danny Baker. She is accompanied by her mother, a burlesque dancer named Dinah (and owner of all of this movie’s pearls of wisdom); Amelia, Jackie’s best friend; and Dinah’s boyfriend, who is also Amelia’s father. Eventually all the paths merge, destined to find their conclusion at the bar where Dinah’s first burlesque show is to be. Just by that plot and cast of characters alone, this book – I mean movie – screams to be read…er, watched.
Since Mitch can’t have kids and he’s scared that if he and Jackie adopt he’ll be a terrible father and screw up his kid for life, Jackie sleeps with an 18-year-old to get pregnant. Movies with the premise of The Space Between, are meant for quirky authors that have an elegance of prose that make the weirdest situations seem like fairy-tales. Or for directors that have a colourful, lopsided vision that turn the mundane into the comical and brilliant. While Johnson did an adequate job with the story, the production and acting could not support her vision.
A movie’s worth does not solely rest upon the shoulders of its plot. So here lies the dilemma…is this movie redeemed because of Johnson’s writing? The enjoyable soundtrack and adequate execution? Or is it beat down by the mediocre acting and sub-par production? I honestly can’t decide. For her first time at directing a full length film and with the budget what it was, Johnson shouldn’t be judged too harshly. She did what she could with what she had. But I do think Johnson should have stuck to just directing and not starring in this film. Her portrayal of Amelia did little in the way of adding humour or improving the quality of the movie. Indeed, she was probably one of the poorer talents and also played one of the most dislikable characters, though I’m sure that wasn’t the intention.
What Johnson did was not terrible or unwatchable, but had this movie been directed by someone else and with about twice the budget, it could have been something far greater than what it was. A quirky tale of love and forgiveness and family that would have been among the quality and style of Hector and the Search for Happiness or Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
I guess what I’m saying is, The Space Between has the bones of a good movie, but it does not have the fully realized heart or muscle it needs to make this funny and out-of-the-ordinary tale something great.