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If you can giveThe Astronaut Farmerthe big, bounding leap of faith it requires, you'll probably enjoy this good-natured film about the importance of holding on to your dreams. The title character (and the dreamer in question) is Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton), a Texas ranch owner and former aeronautics engineer who's got a homemade rocket in his barn and a dream to blast into space. Even though Charlie's deeply in debt and threatened with foreclosure, his wife (Virginia Madsen) and kids are deeply supportive of Charlie's Earth-orbit mission, even when he attracts the glaring attention of a seasoned Air Force colonel (played by Bruce Willis, in an uncredited role), the FAA, the FBI, and the national media. "If we don't have our dreams, we have nothing," says Charlie at a particularly desperate impasse, and this loopy, offbeat, and unabashedly sentimental drama embraces that message with disarming sincerity.
Suspension of disbelief is a challenge when the movie glosses over so many of its logistical details (like, where does one buy an old NASA space capsule?), and in trying for a kind of Capra-esque, eccentrically Western spin on the American dream, the Polish twins--director Michael and cowriter/actor Mark (making their mainstream debut after such indie hits asTwin Falls, IdahoandNorthfork)--are only marginally successful in making Charlie's ambition genuinely believable. The film works much better as a kind of post space-age fable for families, and it's just involving enough to make its climax emotionally rewarding, mostly because Thornton, Madsen, and their costars (including Bruce Dern and Tim Blake Nelson) handle the delicate material with the earnestness it needs to be marginally convincing. Elton John's "Rocket Man" is predictably heard over the closing credits (accordingly, Charlie's launch-time is "zero hours, nine a.m."), and at a time when several adventurous entrepreneurs (including Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos) are gradually developing a civilian space-flight industry,The Astronaut Farmeris an admirable yet forgivably flawed reminder that we should never stop reaching for the stars.--Jeff Shannon
unexpected...yet warm-hearted We didn't know what to expect from a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton yet only rated PG! (DO be prepared for quite a bit of choice mild language, though it's not all on Thornton's part.) At times, it seems that he was mis-cast for this part, but at other times, he truly brings across the needed sympathy for his character. This movie left us with very unique feelings toward it. It was slow yet you weren't bored, or waiting for it to end. Instead, we watched with somewhat enthusiam to see how things would all turn out. The tale may be a bit strange, and nothing especially stands out, but if you realize the entire premise on which this story is built (and it's NOT about our dreams!)- namely the importance of a supportive, loving FAMILY, then you will enjoy this little bit of melodrama.
Living The Impossible Dream In a time of skeptics and comics, of politicians no longer can control the borders or their own vices, and where at least 400 Forbes Billionaires have enough money to pay for NASA's budget for a year, this family film moves to the forefront of the common man's conscious, of those men and women who aren't bound to the paperwork of the office, but whose mind can be focused and whose hands work to make something better.
Some see this movie as entertainment; others see it as a plan.
Perhaps in Texas or California there will emerge someone with passion that far exceeds the pocketbook of billionaires and government. Perhaps someday, somewhere there will be an article in some newspaper entitled, "Yes, there is an Astronaut Farmer".
please Back in 1979 there was a short lived TV show called Salvage 1, Andy Griffith played a Junkman who builds a rocket out of spare parts in his junkyard, I enjoyed that show mainly because I was 10 at the time, I'm not ten anymore.