Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) has always wanted to be an astronaut. In fact,
he was in training to be one when his father's death forced him to pull
out of contention. He never got another shot at fulfilling his dream.
until he took it upon himself to build a rocket in his backyard. This is
not a model or a half-scale hobbyist craft; it's a full-size rocket capable
of leaving Earth's gravity and orbiting the planet. That's exactly what
Charles Farmer plans to do.
Astronaut Farmer (2007)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen,
and Max Thieriot
the support of his wife, Audie (Virginia Madsen), and their three children,
Farmer endures being labeled as the town idiot or, at best, the
guy who hasn't grown to accept the inevitable reality of adulthood:
When he attempts to purchase 10,000 pounds of rocket fuel, he incurs
the wrath of the United States government, who believe he is a threat
security. Their attempts to stop him become just one more obstacle for
Charles Farmer to overcome in order to fulfill what he sees as his destiny.
Astronaut Farmer's concept reminded me of an old TV series called
"Salvage 1." That series, which aired in 1979, featured a junkyard
Griffith), who built a rocket ship out of junk and flew it to the moon
to salvage the equipment left by the astronauts.
However, The Astronaut Farmer isn't anywhere near as campy as
that series became. No one's trying to land on the moon here. All Farmer
wants to do it break the bonds of gravity and circle the Earth once.
The movie is played straight with a little comedic relief sprinkled
that the Polish Brothers, who were responsible for the bizarre and disappointing
were at the helm of The Astronaut Farmer didn't instill any
confidence in me that this movie would be worth sitting through. Thankfully,
their somewhat off-kilter screenplay
and unusual character dynamics make this movie work where I believe
a more straightforward approach would fail. Unfortunately,
the movie tends to drag around the second act and keeps the film from
inspiring as it might have otherwise been
with a slightly truncated midsection.
Bob Thornton's portrayal of Charles Farmer turns him into someone you
want to see succeed in his quest to orbit the earth -- no matter how
dream (or he)
seem. I was laughing with those that laughed at him, but I also wanted
to see him prove them all wrong. Thornton's performance is the
keystone of the movie.
Astronaut Farmer is hardly a deep film. It's a simple feel-good
picture about a guy with a dream and the guts to see it through. It might
label it as "silly" or "unbelievable," but it does
a good job of reminding us that dreams shouldn't be something
we give up
on so easily. There's nothing wrong with that at all.
Willis makes an uncredited appearance as "The Colonel." (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)