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The Astronaut Farmer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Tender Little Family Film About the Importance of Dreams

    THE ASTRONAUT FARMER is a sound little film with a warm message about living for your dreams. The best part about this film is its honesty in not pushing the limits to make a point. It does require the audience to release a bit of credibility, but stories that are fables are pretty rare in film these days and that is reason enough to enter this one. Twin brothers Michael and Mark Polish ('Northfork', 'Twin Falls Idaho', 'Jackpot') wrote and directed this work and have a style that begs indulgence on the part of the viewer, but the style is unique and consistent and is proving to be a fascinating source of art house movie making. Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) is a retired military man who trained as an astronaut but retired to save his family farm in Texas. He dreams of a life as an astronaut and with the encouragement of his wife Audie (Virginia Madsen), grandfather Hal (Bruce Dern), son Shepard (Max Thieriot) and other children, Farmer has built a rocket and a space ship, going against all odds to be the first citizen astronaut. Though many of the little town's citizens question Farmer's credibility and though the bank threatens to foreclose on his over-borrowed farm, Farmer persists - his only major problem occurs when he orders 10,000 gallons of fuel, a factor that alerts the FBI. But Farmer manages to remain focused to achieve his dream and the ending of the movie reveals the payoff to his persistence. The cast is excellent with Thornton giving one of his more docile roles and succeeding in making Farmer win our hearts. Minor roles make use of the talents of Tim Blake Nelson, J.K. Simmons, Sal Lopez and Kiersten Warren among others. The pleasure of this fantasy film is the lack of need for computer-generated animation: the magic is in the warmth of the characters and their dreams. This is a fine little film for a large, sensitive audience. Grady Harp

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