Saturday, May 05, 2007

Way Overdue Movie Review: The Astronaut Farmer

The Astronaut Farmer

DVD Release Date: 07/10/2007

In Brief: What's Good

  • Feel-good story.

  • Dreamy, patriotic kind of tone.

  • Well-written, considering the hard to believe concept and plot.

  • Cute kids.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • The story often requires a suspension of disbelief.

B Story
B Acting
B Directing
B Visuals

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Charlie Farmer, a Texas cattle rancher and ex-member of NASA who has always dreamed of being an astronaut but was forced to drop out of the program for family reasons before he fulfilled his dream. Still obsessed with going into space, Farmer has decided to build a rocket in his barn and have his teenage son serve as ground control for his impending launch.

The movie does a good job exloring Farmer's obsession and how it affects the opinions of others, including his own family. Billy Bob Thorton plays Farmer as being determined, confident, and idealistic, but not crazed. Farmer is sane; he's just chosen a dream that is difficult to achieve, inconvenient for others (the government), and somewhat worthy of reasonable skepticism.

One thing about the story particularly impressed me and helped salvage some credibility. Before even seeing the movie, I thought that of all the resources necessary to independently construct a rocket, it would be the fuel that would be the hardest to acquire. In fact, the acquisition of the fuel is a major subplot at the beginning of the movie, so the filmmakers did not overlook this important plot point.

This is definitely a feel good movie. It's partially--if not completely--ludicrous, but if you accept that and run with it, one may find this movie uplifting, humorous, and poignant.

Fun Facts from Wikipedia

This is one of two films starring Virginia Madsen that premiered on 23 February 2007, the other being The Number 23 which stars Jim Carrey. This is the 2nd time Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis have starred together in a movie about space travel, the first being Armageddon. Shepard, the son in the movie, is named after Alan Shepard who was the first American in space. The rocket in the movie is a nearly-scale replica of the Mercury-Atlas rocket that sent the first Americans astronauts into orbit. The space suit worn by Thornton's character is the same as the Navy Mark V pressure suit worn by all Mercury 7 astronauts prior to Mercury-Atlas 9.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Thanks for writing this - it reminded me that I'd wanted to see this movie back when it was in theatres. I didn't, and then promptly forgot it existed (as is the case with most movies). Now I've added it to my netflix queue. From your review it sounds about how I expected it to be - A decent Friday night flick, but I'll probably forget all about it (again) after watching it. :)