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The Space Between Us

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As wholesome and sappy as a maple tree, “The Space Between Us” is an inoffensive teenage romantic drama, set in the near future, about a boy named Gardner (Asa Butterfield) who is the first person born on Mars, the result of a NASA astronaut’s careless pregnancy (those dizzy dames and their uteruses, am I right?).

After living his first 16 years with scientist/colonizers on the Red Planet, Gardner comes “home” to Earth, where he’s been chatting online with a troubled Colorado girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson). NASA’s doctors (like B.D. Wong) and bureaucrats (like Gary Oldman) are concerned that Gardner’s Mars-conditioned organs won’t last under Earth’s heavy gravity; others (like his surrogate mom, Mars scientist Carla Gugino) are more concerned about his happiness and sociability; Gardner just wants to experience the wonders of Earth life (and find his father).

Directed by Peter Chelsom (“Hannah Montana: The Movie”) from a humdrum screenplay by so-so writer Allan Loeb (“Here Comes the Boom”), the film overplays Gardner’s unfamiliarity with human interaction — he grew up surrounded by dozens of scientists and had access to Earth’s media, not isolated in a bubble — and takes some narrative steps that don’t stand up to logical scrutiny. But it also sometimes captures the bittersweetness of young, star-crossed love and the joy of discovery. Viewed as a harmless sci-fi-tinged teen drama, it passes the time pleasantly enough.

B- (2 hrs.; PG-13, brief very mild sensuality and a bit of language -- should be PG.)