The Astronaut Farmer (2006)

PG   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi


The Astronaut Farmer (2006) Poster

A NASA astronaut, forced to retire years earlier so he could save his family farm, has never given up his dream of space travel and looks to build his own rocket, despite the government's threats to stop him.


6.3/10
21,423

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  • Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
  • Bruce Dern at an event for The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
  • Sal Lopez in The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
  • Virginia Madsen and Max Thieriot in The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
  • Billy Bob Thornton and Connie Angland at an event for The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
  • Bruce Willis and Bruce Dern at an event for The Astronaut Farmer (2006)

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1 February 2007 | SnakePlizzken
8
| Field of Dreams meets October Sky
I saw this wonderfully charming family movie tonight at a free preview in Washington, DC.

The Polish brothers and the Warner Brothers, taking a cue from Walden Media, have hit the family movie sweet spot with this fun, engaging film. I'm giving it an 8 on the basis of pure solid family entertainment value.

(If this movie were a car it would probably be a Toyota Camry)

At the start of the screening, Billy Bob Thorton proudly (and accurately, IMHO) characterized this film as a feel-good Frank Capraesque popcorn flick - the sort of film that would have been on the "A" side of a double bill back in the days of his youth.

Billy Bob and Virginia Madsen do terrific jobs with their characters. I think the timelessly beautiful Ms. Madsen is particularly effective as Farmer's patient, loving, and somewhat exasperated wife.

(and if I were Stephen Colbert interviewing Billy Bob Thorton, I would probably ask this question - "Virginia Madsen: hot co-star, or *the hottest* co-star?").

The story and the arc of the film bring strong elements of "Field of Dreams" and "October Sky" to mind; but absent the mysticism of the former and the somewhat dysfunctional family dynamics of the latter. As a large, tasty helping of pure western Americana I don't doubt for a minute that this film will be a huge hit in Japan.

This movie pays light homage to films like "The Right Stuff" and "Apollo 13." Space fanatics, rocket scientists, and other members of the pocket-protector crowd might experience a few "oh please, you've got to be kidding" moments, but because of its charm, likable characters, and strong acting, this movie requires a lot less disbelief suspension than a film like, oh I don't know, let's say "Armageddon," for example.

Speaking of baby-boomer asteroid wranglers, I was also pleasantly surprised to see Bruce Willis in a small, but key supporting role. I think it's really great when skilled, immensely watchable actors lend their talents to bright young film makers. At the Q&A after the film it was revealed that Bruce took the role as a favor to the Polish brothers and that he essentially worked for free. It was nice of him to do that.

All of the other members of the well-casted supporting ensemble (including some young members of the Polish tribe) delivered solid performances as well.

I won't give you a synopsis of the film here (others are better than me at that sort of thing); but I will tell you that I plan to take my wife and 4, 7, and 12 year old kids to see this film for the pure joy of watching a fun, happy, and slightly quirky movie together as a family.

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