Joe McGovern
September 15, 2016 AT 06:55 PM EDT

Operation Avalanche

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
94 minutes
release date
09/16/16
genre
Comedy

We gave it a C+

Apart from the folks who believe Onion headlines, ordinary decent conspiracy theorists will be disappointed by Operation Avalanche. And, for once, they won’t be a minority group. Director Matt Johnson second film (after the school-shooting mockumentary The Dirties) is a 1960s-era found-footage parody about two undercover CIA agents (Johnson and Owen Williams) who infiltrate NASA and fake the 1969 moon landing. Johnson is a dedicated buffoon and some of what he conjures up (via sneaking around and low-tech special effects) is truly inspired. In a moment worthy of Zelig, he is seen getting Stanley Kubrick’s autograph while on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The talking-in-circles banter with crusty old NASA officials feels like vintage Albert Brooks. But the movie’s premise has trouble sustaining a feature-length running time, getting mired in repetitive jokes and a third-act swing into harder-core suspense that never really connects. Johnson, who’s not even 30, is undoubtedly a talent to watch (major studios have already come calling), but Operation Avalanche is a small step rather than a giant leap. C+

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