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THE ASTRONAUT FARMER, 2007
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Robert's Movie Review

"The Astronaut Farmer" is the story of Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton), a former NASA astronaut-in-training who left the space program due to personal reasons, but he never gave up his dream of going up into space. So, over the years, he's been building his own a rocket inside the barn on his family's farmstead, spending all the money they have. Regardless, his loving wife Augie Farmer (Virginia Madsen) and their three children are all very supportive of him. However, his neighbors and the local townsfolk consider him to be a bit crazy and think he'll never actually launch the rocket (or that if he does, it will blow most likely blow up and kill him). With his rocket nearly complete, Charles tries to source the rocket fuel that he needs and the FBI, FAA, Dept. of Homeland Security and others government agencies suddenly take notice and try to put a stop to it. Civilians are not allowed to build rockets in their backyards and launch themselves into space... there are all sorts of laws against it. However, Charles Farmer will not be dissuaded and plans to make his dream take flight, no matter what the obstacles or costs. Making matter even worse, the bank threatens for foreclose on their home due to so many late payments and credit issues, which causes a lot of stress on the Farmer family.

"The Astronaut Farmer" is a fun, entertaining and inspirational family movie. Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen are great together and really played their roles quite well. However, this movie was sadly not as inspirational as it could (or should) have been. At times, Charles Farmer came off as blatantly selfish and uncaring towards his family. Due to his obsession with space flight, his family might lose everything… their house and all the surrounding property, all their assets and possibly Charles himself if the rocket blows up… but at times he seemed to not care about any of that. He was going to go do what he wanted and that's that. That attitude and character flaw really dropped my opinion of this otherwise excellent movie. What I also really enjoyed was the humor in the script. There was one scene in particular that almost made me fall out of my seat… there were

these 2 FBI agents, who looked almost completely alike (sort of like clones), that were assigned to watch the Farmers… one of their cell phones rang and the ringtone was the Star Wars Imperial Army theme! There were actually quite a few odd little bits of humor sprinkled all through the script. Overall, this was a decent movie, but I was really hoping it would be more inspirational.

All in all, I'd give this movie 3.5 STARS (out of 5). Re-watch value: MEDIUM

Brett's Movie Review

"The Astronaut Farmer" is a charming, inspirational drama that successfully avoids some of the modern cinematic clichés while appealing to the dreamer in all of us. Earning his degree in aerospace engineering and joining the Air Force as a pilot, Farmer was a natural for NASA's astronaut training program and was well on his way when a family situation forced him to drop out. Dismissed from NASA's space program, former astronaut-in-training Charles Farmer (BILLY BOB THORNTON) pursues his lifelong dream by building his own rocket, in the Polish Brothers' family film "The Astronaut Farmer." On the eve of his launch, Farmer must battle foreclosure on his ranch and a small-town community of disbelievers, and when Farmer's efforts to secure 10,000 pounds of high-grade fuel catches the attention of the FBI--and subsequently the media, who encamp in droves outside his gate. Farmer finds himself depicted on TV screens worldwide as a renegade hero, inspiring an outpouring of popular support, while simultaneously drawing heavy fire from the FBI, CIA, FAA, NASA and the U.S. Military, all of whom see him as a threat and will do anything they can think of to shut him down. However Farmer knows this is his only chance--not only to reach his goal of breaking through the Earth's atmosphere but to instill in his children the courage to pursue their own ideals and never give up, no matter the odds. He will not let himself be grounded again. This was by far the best movie of the weekend, I thought Thornton did an outstanding job, and the chemistry between him and his family was excellent. The plot and story were very well done and brought to a very real modernistic view of the world and how it would react to this story. There were a couple of holes, but nothing that really distracted from the story or continuity of the plot. Overall a very well done movie, and well acted, even the humor was well placed.

Overall Rating 3.5 Stars (out of 5). Re-Watch Value: Moderate (I will probably purchase on DVD).

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