Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Astronaut Farmer: Grade C


The Astronaut Farmer (2006)

Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Max Theriot, with bits from Bruce Willis and Jay Leno. Co-writer and director Michael Polish.

This low-budget independent movie is a “family picture” in two ways. The Polish brothers not only wrote and directed, and played several parts, but their totally adorable children (Sunshine and Stanley) also star in it. On the other hand, it is a Disney-esque family picture reminiscent of Field of Dreams. Dad (BBT) builds a space rocket in his barn to serve his dream of going into space. He spends all his money, mortgages the farm and upsets his wife (Madsen) in his mad quest. Will the rocket ever launch? Who cares? The premise and every detail of the story are completely unbelievable, so you just have to go with warm fuzzy sentimentality. The strongest part of the movie is the writing, and there are some genuinely funny lines. Acting is hammy and the kids are very tightly edited to make them cute. But it’s a mild family drama, not really a comedy.

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