A trio of paper-thin plots spun into a cutesy shard of stale ribbon candy, Love in Space commences its mushy rom-com formula regurgitation with a widescreen spacecraft fly-by shot, the familiar Strauss waltz blaring in the first of some lazy Kubrick quotes. Belying its title, only one lumpy act of this mating circus is set beyond the bounds of Earth, as three daughters of a sunny Beijing widow (Xu Fan) are embroiled in amorous dilemmas. Lily (Gwei Lun Mei), an art student in Sydney afflicted with OCD and germaphobia, falls for a cherubic garbage collector; Peony (the antic Angelababy), a movie ingenue who regularly wins Bad Actress awards, embarks on a love-hate affair with a co-worker as she works incognito (i.e. behind huge black-framed glasses) at a café to research an upcoming role; and most exotically, no-nonsense astronaut Rose (René Liu) finds herself sharing a space station with her handsome, leering ex (what are the odds?).
A curious mélange of slapstick styles—one of the broadest comedic set pieces is built on the sanitation man (Canto-pop singer Eason Chan, with a wet-look coif) accidentally flushing Lily’s fave teddy bear down the commode—and syrupy encomiums to “giving love a chance,” Love in Space has a certain fitful, strenuous charm for awhile. Co-directors Tony Chan and Wing Shya camouflage the flailing troupers and leaden scenario (which unfolds like a Chinese remake of a forgotten ‘60s Hollywood “zany” farce) with psychedelic décor and a few eye-popping fashion tragedies, Angelababy’s giant pair-of-cherries barrette a daunting lowlight. And when Peony arrives on the set of her film, it looks as garish and empty as any Baz Luhrmann spectacular. But as all three of the made-for-each-other couples move through crisis and resolution, the death grip of schmaltz suffocates the last reels, with a wretchedly saccharine score adding offense to a zero-gravity teardrop and a nationally televised reconciliation. Doris Day and Rock Hudson might’ve done smarmy wonders with a helmeted, star-voyage courtship, but unfortunately for Liu and her shoving-match partner Aaron Kwok, the weightlessness that dominates Love in Space is no special effect.