The Astronaut Farmer

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THE ASTRONAUT FARMER  is a sweet little movie, kind of a fable, somewhat like a sleek version of a good kid’s book (say, ages 9-14).  An ‘ordinary’ guy builds a rocket and faces scorn from doubters, debt over financing and nosiness from the government in his dream to head for space.

Billy Bob Thornton again shows the gift for naive decency that he brought to A Simple Plan (terrific movie) and to his excellent portrayal of Davy Crockett in the underrated 2004 version of The Alamo.  Virginia Madsen, Bruce Willis & Bruce Dern (finally allowed to play a good guy) all have nice roles; the children in the story look and act like real kids instead of ‘movie kids’; the cinematography is quite attractive thanks to M. David Mullen; and the tone wisely plays straight with the obviously fantastic plot. Suspend disbelief for 104 minutes: it doesn’t hurt.

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2006 film cost $$13,000,000 but only drew $11,140,000 back into orbit, not loud & flashy enough to draw sufficient crowds.  Directed by Michael Polish, who co-wrote the script with his brother Mark, whose daughters Jasper and Logan play two of the kids (Max Theriot plays the third).

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With Jon Gries, Tim Blake Nelson and J.K. Simmons.

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