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The Astronaut Farmer


"Astronaut farmer? Why, he's a guy who works on a ranch and then goes in to space."

This farmer is also named Farmer, which makes me believe an 8-year-old had a hand writing the script.

Never one to shy away from non-traditional roles, Billy Bob Thornton headlines Astronaut's eclectic cast. Remember when he beat up a pre-teen bully in Bad Santa? Or when he played a pompous, philandering U.S. president in Love, Actually? This role's a little tamer, but no less silly.

Years after being forced to leave NASA's astronaut training program for family reasons, Charlie Farmer (Thornton) decides to build a rocket in his barn. Naturally, neither the FAA nor FBI are thrilled, but his family seems rather (foolishly) supportive. The moral of the story, as preached by Thornton throughout, is something about following your dreams, but the writing/directing team, the Polish Brothers (Twin Falls, Idaho), claim the real story is all about Farmer's family circle. I find it a little illogical to believe any family would rally around a nut job building a rocket on the family ranch. But that's me.

Virginia Madsen (Sideways) and Bruce Dern (The 'Burbs) star as Thornton's supportive wife and father-in-law, while Bruce Willis (Die Hard) appears uncredited as Col. Doug Masterson, Farmer's nay-saying ex-NASA cohort.

It feels a lot like a Disney offshoot, offering trite morals through hokey premises. Sadly, my favorite part was hearing Elton John perform Rocket Man as the end credits rolled.