The Space Between Us

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Space Between Us Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Teen sci-fi romance is sweet, if not out of this world.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates the need for connection and friendship. Themes include courage and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gardner is brilliant, kind, and clever. He cares deeply about Tulsa. Kendra is loving and maternal toward Gardner. Tulsa is intelligent and compassionate toward Gardner and his mission.


A mother dies during childbirth. A plane crashes and causes a huge explosion but no deaths. Various security forces pursue Tulsa and Gardner as they search for his father. A few times, it seems like Gardner is going to die.


Passionate kissing. One love scene in a sleeping bag under the stars -- bare shoulders and backs shown.


Language isn't frequent but includes "badass," "ass," "damn," "d--k," and "crap."


Dell computers, Greyhound bus line, Volvo, Mercedes, Chevy, Mars bar, Ford truck, Walmart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tulsa's father is drunk and has a bunch of beer bottles lying around.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Space Between Us is a sci-fi romance starring Asa Butterfield as a teen born on Mars and Britt Robertson as the girl he hopes to meet once he finally travels to Earth. Language is pretty infrequent ("ass," "damn," etc.), and violence is limited to authorities pursuing the teen couple and a crash that causes an explosion (but no deaths). Expect some drinking (a parental figure is shown drunk and surrounded by beer bottles) and a whole lot of romantic tension that culminates in passionate kissing and one love scene (bare shoulders and backs are briefly visible). With themes of courage and teamwork, the movie celebrates the need for connection and friendship. But it's likely to appeal a bit more to teens interested in love stories than anyone in the market for a sci-fi thriller.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNeversideFaerie March 5, 2018

Reckless behaviour from teens

For the most part, this movie is pretty clean. There's only a handful of swear words and I don’t recall any violence. However, the two main characters (who... Continue reading
Adult Written byCarefulMommy July 12, 2019

The Best Movie ever

This movie is for kids of all ages!!
Teen, 14 years old Written byCool Kidz. May 11, 2021

Ehh...Like the idea of being born on Mars.

I'll tell you what? This movie is okay. It's clean (except for the sleepover)!I have watched many movies, I really just stuck by because of the whole... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRomy Chubs March 2, 2019

I’m speechless

That was the worst movie I have seen in a WHILE. Not gonna lie it was entertaining, but NOT for the right reasons. It had a hopeful plot, until everything was t... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE SPACE BETWEEN US tells the story of the first human born on Mars, a boy named Gardner (Asa Butterfield) who was born and raised in a NASA space station. His mother, an astronaut, had no idea she was pregnant when she led the team of scientists to the Red Planet; she died during childbirth. Sixteen years later, there are more scientists on Mars, but Gardner's only friend his age is someone he met online: an Earth high schooler named Tulsa (Britt Robertson). Desperate to find his father and meet Tulsa, Gardner ignores medical advice that his body won't last in Earth's atmosphere and sets out to find Tulsa. They then head out on a road trip to find the man Gardner assumes is his father.

Is it any good?

This sweet but not particularly out-of-this-world teen romance stars a talented ensemble, but it ultimately lacks the necessary sparks. Although younger audiences may not notice, adults will realize the age discrepancy between the two main characters (almost seven years); Robertson and Butterfield are fine actors, but the filmmakers should cast someone as Tulsa who didn't look old enough to be Butterfield's concerned older sister -- or chosen a male lead who didn't look quite so young. By the time they start their inevitable kissing, it's downright uncomfortable to watch.

That major flaw aside, the story is fairly predictable once audiences figure out what's a red herring and what's reality. Hot on the couple's heels is the Mars mission's former billionaire visionary, Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman). His keen interest in Gardner's health signals an overarching sense of guilt at unknowingly sending a pregnant woman to space, and Goldman plays Shepherd with a constant sense of concern and frenzy. Carla Gugino, an expert at maternal roles, co-stars as Kendra, the scientist who acted as Gardner's primary guardian on Mars. She's always ready with a comforting word to the curious, confused boy. Bottom line? This is no Titanic, but The Space Between Us should appeal to middle-schoolers looking for an easy-to-follow story about teens who find friendship and love from across the solar system.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Space Between Us and the enduring popularity of "space" movies. How does this film differ from other movies about humans on other planets?

  • Discuss the romance in the movie. Is it what you were expecting? Can you think of other sci-fi romances?

  • Which characters do you consider role models? How do they exhibit courage and teamwork?

  • Gardner and Tulsa's friendship is established online. Their situation isn't average, of course, but what are some guidelines for safe online interactions with others?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and romance

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