The Astronaut Farmer movie poster
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The Astronaut Farmer movie poster

The Astronaut Farmer Movie Review

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Loveable little Billy Bob stars in The Astronaut Farmer, a sentimental, slightly cheesy but ultimately entertaining drama about an ex-NASA astronaut who has decided to build a space rocket in his barn. Possible? Highly unlikely. Plausible? Not really. Fun to watch? Yes.

Now, let's dispense with what doesn't make sense in The Astronaut Farmer, a product of Michael and Mark Polish. First off, how does a man find the money, even through bank loans, to create a rocket as sophisticated as the one in the movie? Secondly, if he's so smart to make a rocket, why's he so stupid to build the launching pad right next to his house, where one wrong move could cause everything he owns, and his family, to be obliterated? Third, how can his wife (Virginia Madsen) be so supportive of a husband who is risking everything just to achieve some long-winded dream. Not holding your partner back is one thing, but letting him strap himself to several tons of jet fuel to blast into outer space is quite another.

If you can get over those nagging questions, though, The Astronaut Farmer is a fun little film. It won't win any awards, and it probably won't get much repeat viewing, but it is a nice little family film that parents and children can enjoy together. The movie shows the bonding of family (an amazingly forgiving family), the determination of people, people overcoming obstacles, and, of course, a couple pretty good rocket sequences. Billy Bob [Thornton] is a great actor and is no different here; he's the perfect actor for the film. Madsen really doesn't get to do much, but, then again, the movie's not about her, is it?

Ultimately, there's nothing really wrong with The Astronaut Farmer, but it doesn't quite achieve that level of emotional stimulus that you need for a film like this to become a classic. The blast-off scenes are good, but the build-up to them isn't; Polish (Michael) needed to stimulate the audience more and get them excited for the launch, rather just dropping it on us the way Billy Bob does on the other characters in the movie (in one sudden scene, he rockets off while his wife is in the kitchen of her home. The shockwave causes the window to shatter in her face).

A little more build-up to the big scenes could have gone a long way, but The Astronaut Farmer is an enjoyable little film. Recommended to families where the kids - or the parents - are interested in space travel.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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