Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Farmer Astronaut

This is a story about dreams and fulfilling them. Charles Farmer is a former Air Force astronaut wannabe, astrophysicist and engineer (not stated, but implied by his talents), who left the Air Force in order to save the family ranch after his father’s death. But, his dream of going into space has never died to the point of obsession. He lives and breaths outer space. He has indoctrinated his entire family into his dream and they are all part of it. He has even built a real rocket, based on an Atlas rocket and built out of spares and scrap, in his barn, that he intends to use to shoot himself into space. The locals in the town all laugh behind his back. They just think he is a bit of a kook and don’t really take him seriously. The down side to all of this is that he has gone into debt, big time, and has not told anyone (his wife especially) about it, and they are about to foreclose on the family ranch. On top of that, government has been made aware of his rocket when he inquired about the large quantity of fuel he wanted to purchase for his launch, and in this post 9/11 world they have put the FBI to watch his every move, and the FAA tries to slow roll him so that the bank can foreclose before his launch date. Charlie feels his dream slipping away and throws caution to the wind and decides to launch using a less than perfect fuel source.

Like I said, this is a movie about dreams. It is a good family movie with nothing offensive in it at all. The performances are good with Billy Bob Thornton as our dreamer, Virginia Madsen as his “too good to believe in supporting all this” wife, a small part by Bruce Dern (he’s getting old) and an uncredited roll by Bruce Willis. The problems I had with it are it is a bit slow moving. Some people like this pace, but I needed it to move a bit faster. There were also numerous flaws, both technical and non-technical that tended to bother me, but it is still a good story with some life implications thrown in. All things considered, I give it a 7 out of 10 rating.

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