Directed by: Kateryna Czartorysky
Written by: G. Chandler Cearley, Emmet Padgett
Starring: Patrick Monaghan, David Henderson
Almost all of us wanted to be an astronaut at one point of our lives. That point was obviously during the sweet age of our childhood. And how could it not be? At such a tender age, you look up towards the sky, and your callow mind gets lost in space. The vastness and darkness (at night) of the sky transmute into a mystery screaming to be solved, touched, and conquered. Adulthood changes this fantastical gaze, smashing us back to reality like a meteor crashing on the earth’s surface. You unravel that becoming an astronaut is not a child’s play. The mathematical equations crush your fantasies. The sky becomes the limit.
Alex (Patrick Monaghan), the protagonist of director Kateryna Czartorysky’s Voyager PEN-15, wants to be an astronaut too. The only difference between him and you is that he didn’t quit on his dreams. The equations were not able to scare this man off. Where did his passion land him? To NASA! Just hold your congratulations for a second. He is working there as, wait for it, a janitor. Who said following your dreams was easy? He wants to explore the space, but his job allows him to only surf the headquarters with a mopping stick in his hand. On a professional scale, he is pushed down to the lowest rank. Each of us has our own little world filled with pleasure, love, or excitement. Alex’s world contains a great force of gravity, forbidding him from rising above his state. No one takes his dreams seriously. When he gapes at the spacecraft, the other janitor named Mike (David Henderson) scolds him for “spacing out.” Mike tethers Alex to his truth by continually reminding him of his status.
But as the saying goes, “success is simply a matter of luck.” And Alex finds his triumph after entering inside the Voyager PEN-15 aircraft, along with Mike. Why does he do that, and what happens after it is something I will leave for you to find. From here, Czartorysky resuscitates the eccentric screenplay (written by G. Chandler Cearley and Emmet Padgett) into an outlandish cinematic adaptation.
There are two ways to watch Voyager PEN-15 - (1) be put off by its bizarre developments, eventually labeling it as meaningless, or (2) submit yourself to its weird setting and enjoy the ride as much as the people in (and behind) it. Of course, different people will have different reactions to it. Personally, I enjoy quirky characters in a film, and Voyager PEN-15 has just the type for my taste. Monaghan and Henderson make sure you have a smile on your face even when things go out of hand. Czartorysky ensures the tone doesn’t derail. For instance, when Alex is “greeted” by his parents and the President of the USA (don’t ask), we get a genuinely sweet moment where a family takes pride in their son’s achievements. This scene could have easily fallen into the pit of melodrama, but Czartorysky and Alex keep it within the range of the film’s wacky sense of humor. The visual effects are curbed under the weight of minimal finances. But this micro profligacy helps in keeping the film light and whimsical, just like everything else in Voyager PEN-15. Czartorysky takes the camera and goes crazy. All you have to do is surrender to her gaiety, preposterous vision.