Monday, July 23, 2007


Not ready for liftoff

By Edward Copeland
I suppose you should expect that an "inspirational" story helmed by the Polish brothers, who previously brought odd films such as Twin Falls, Idaho to the screen, would be a little different. However, I didn't expect The Astronaut Farmer to be so downright boring.

Brothers Michael and Mark Polish split duties on The Astronaut Farmer, with both sharing writing duties, Michael directing and Mark playing the small role of an FBI agent assigned to keep watch on Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton), a nearly bankrupt farmer with a dream to launch himself into space with a homemade rocket. It's not nearly as interesting as it sounds.

Farmer once was a NASA astronaut, but he never got to go on the big ride but his dream persists to the point of mental illness. He's about to lose his farm, is putting his family's home at risk but he's got this obsession that must be fulfilled! Be prepared to be inspired (assuming you can stop yawning long enough).

The performers (in addition to Thornton, there's Virginia Madsen, Tim Blake Nelson and an unbilled Bruce Willis) all do what they can, but making this story takeoff requires more heavy lifting than even the biggest supply or rocket fuel could achieve.

There also is a terribly obtrusive score by Stuart Matthewman, but since it drowns out much of the would-be sappy dialogue, perhaps that's a good thing. One thing in the film's favor though is the cinematography by M. David Mullen, which is exquisite. Too bad there's not a good movie to go with the great pictures.

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