The Astronaut Farmer

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By: The Dweeb

 

July 2007

DVD Features

Video: 2.35:1 Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

How to Build a Rocket: The Making of Astronaut Farmer
A Conversation with NASA Astronaut David Scott
Bloopers and Outtakes

Theatrical release: 2/23/2007
DVD released on 7/10/2007 by Warner Bros.
Running time of 104 minutes

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern

Director: Michael Polish

Plot: All systems are “Go” for Charles Farmer. He’s faced bank foreclosure, neighborhood naysayers and a government alarmed by his huge purchase of high-grade fuel, but now he’s ready to blast into space inside the homemade rocket he built in his barn. Just be home in time for dinner, Charlie.

 

 

The Astronaut Farmer’s opening shot is of a man riding a horse through the desert in an old style space suit to retrieve a lost calf. This strange sequence sets the tone of the obsessive quest of Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) to shoot himself up into space using his own home made rocket. Its an interesting concept, although its very far fetched you just can’t help but root for the guy. His obsession is ruining his life, his family and he’s faced with foreclosure, plus the feds are breathing down his neck. So, common sense tells you he’s going to stop right? No way man, this is Hollywood! That would make for a boring film, so its go for launch time!

If you are able to forgo some of the outlandish realities of achieving a feat such as this, this movie will work. It is actually a likeable film, only because Billy Bob plays the washed out former astronaut role well enough to make you sympathize for his plight. There is the standard renegade dreamer versus everyone else theme running throughout the film. Oddly enough even his wife (Virginia Madsen) condones his foolishness, to an extent anyway. Most wifes would shoot down that idea even before the first bolt was purchased.

The scene where he gives his I have a dream speech is a bit cheesy, but it serves its purpose. The comittee doesn’t go for it by the way. But with rousing musical score we eventually have liftoff, with his 15 year old son as ground control of course. A sad ending is rare for films, and this one is no exception although they do get close. As always, he pulls out just in time. Never mind the fact that the first time he tried launching only lands him in the hospital with some broken bones. I can’t believe I just wrote that, get your mind out of the gutter!

The DVD itself that comes with the film isn’t much to write home about. Its a single disc package with only few features. Clearly Warners has the rental market in mind for creating this version. The technical aspects of the film is good, my wife was wondering what the thundering base sound was that was coming from the basement. But other than that its fairly standard fare for the extra features. No surprises here.

Double entendres aside, Astronaut Farmer is an entertaining film with a good mix of emotional and humerous scenes. There’s a lot going on in this small town in Texas. Watch your step theres a cow pattie next to the launch vehicle

Reviewer’s Opinion: RENT IT!!

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