The Astronaut Farmer Review
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All his life, Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) wanted to travel into space. After getting a degree in aerospace engineering, he joined the Air Force and was beginning his training for the space program when a family crisis forced him to return home to Texas to care for his family. But Farmer never let go of his dream—and, in his spare time, he started to build the rocket that would one day take him into space.

After years of work and careful planning, Farmer’s rocket is ready to go. All he needs is 10,000 pounds of rocket fuel—but when he tries to get it, the government finds out, and the FBI shows up at his door. As the government begins investigating and scheduling hearings, the media arrives at Charlie’s farm. Suddenly, the whole world wants to know what’s going to happen to the man they call the Astronaut Farmer.

Meanwhile, things are looking worse and worse for Farmer. He’s behind on his mortgage payments, and he needs another $50,000 to pay for the rocket fuel. Charlie’s wife, Audie (Virginia Madsen), is supportive of his dream—but will she continue to support him once she finds out that the bank is just weeks away from foreclosing on their home?

I’m beginning to think that Billy Bob Thornton can do anything. Whether it’s crude comedy or an inspiring family drama, he nails it every time. In fact, if Billy Bob Thornton wanted to build his own rocket and orbit the planet, I bet he could do that, too. In The Astronaut Farmer, Thornton turns a movie with a questionable premise and a funny name into a touching drama about sacrifice, determination, and striving to make your dreams come true, no matter what the cost. Thornton’s performance is remarkable—and though he plays an average, mild-mannered Texas farmer (who just happens to have a rocket in his barn), he does it with such commanding presence that you can’t take your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen.

But it’s more than just Thornton’s performance that makes The Astronaut Farmer worth the price of admission. The story has so much heart that you can’t help but feel moved. Though it’s sometimes a bit beyond belief (something that the film’s sketchy effects don’t exactly help), you’ll want to believe it. You’ll want everything to work out—for the family to keep their house, and for Farmer to finally get into space, like he’s always wanted.

As I walked out of the theater with the rest of the audience, two young boys caught my attention as they ran around the lobby, shouting, “Five…four…three…two…one…blast off!” And if this movie can encourage kids to dream a bit, I’m all for it. Take the kids to see it. And, while you’re at it, take your dad, too.

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