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February 20, 2007

The Astronaut Farmer

Astronaut-farmer A former NASA astronaut trainee who abandoned his career to attend to his family after the death of his father spends his life building a rocket with the dream of orbiting the earth a single time. It’s this capricious premise that writer/director twins Michael and Mark Polish ("Northfork") fail to spin into a cogent narrative. Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) is a quirky Texas rancher with a giant rocket in his barn that his wife (Virginia Madsen) and three kids dream will take him into space if they don’t end up in the poor house first. The Government moves in to shut Farmer down after he tries to purchase thousands of gallons of rocket fuel. Even Bruce Willis shows up at Farmer’s house as a former astronaut colleague there to talk sense to the demented man-with-a-dream. Stuck between an idealized ‘60s era idea of liberty and our post-9/11 clampdown under Big Brother, "The Astronaut Farmer" is a high concept movie that never bothers to bridge its essential gap of sanity and reason.

Rated PG. 105 mins. (C) (Two Stars)

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