By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros. Pictures.
The Astronaut Farmer
I have two snarky thoughts with which to lead off my review of The Astronaut Farmer. One is that it's a really good thing that the farmer was named Farmer. Two is that I will be really upset if nobody makes a porno movie called Ass Farmer. It's right there!
Movie Review: The Astronaut Farmer
The Astronaut Farmer is a great movie if you want to see a guy stand up to the government. However, it asks you to care about one guy going into space just because he wants to. That's a pretty big leap. I don't give a rat's ass about rockets. I'm impressed that a farmer built a functioning one, but that was already done before we even started the movie.
Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) has built a rocket in his barn, but the FAA tries to stop him from launching it. Now what right does big government have to tell a private citizen he can't explode 10,000 gallons of fuel on his own damn property? Meanwhile, the bank is about to foreclose on his farm, but if he can just get into space, the book deal with pay for everything. But that's really besides the point because it's all about his dream.
I was really worried this movie would be boring, all about looking at the stars and speaking before committee hearings. There's some of that, but they really keep the pace moving. Even without the minor action sequence midway through, Farmer keeps overcoming obstacles scene to scene so we stay interested.
It goes a little overboard with the oh so cute touches, like the giggling little daughters, the down home carnival dance and voting on the name for the rocket. When Farmer hits a low point and starts moping, it really feels like a South Park, like "Charles Farmer is… Bummin' on Rockets."
But he does stand up to the government, and the classic J.K. Simmons provides the perfect foil to serve a comeuppance. It's a perfectly nice "little guy against the system" movie as long as you don't expect anything new. There's enough humor and wink wink to get away with the preachy stuff.
My only question is: why is the rocket already built at the beginning? Wouldn't a film about building a rocket be more exciting than a film about the committee meetings to launch it? I'm just saying.