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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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The Astronaut Farmer

Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) is a man with a dream. Unlike some men, he does not dream of wealth, fame, or material goods, instead he dreams simply of traveling into space. While to most who share Charles’s dream would be resigned to simply leave it at that, Charles is not like most men and is determined to make his dream a reality.

While Charles too many is a simple rancher, his past is anything but simple thanks in part to his past career at N.A.S.A.

While N.A.S.A. has forgotten about Charles, who left to care for his family after the passing of his father, Charles never lost site of his desire to travel into space, and has decided to do something about it.

Towards that end, Charles has decided to use his aerospace training and education to construct his own rocket in his barn.

His family is supportive, especially his loving wife Audrey (Virginia Madsen), who believes that since Jim gave up his dreams for his family when they needed him most, and he should be supported now.

Of course many of the locales in his small Texas town do not share his vision and too many Charles is the locale oddity who is borderline crazy. This fact is also shared by the bank that is close to foreclosing on his ranch.

Despite the skeptics, Charles is close to his dream, but he lacks the needed fuel to power his rocket. While his efforts have largely gone under the radar, the moment Charles attempts to purchase fuel, he lands high on the watch list for the government, who now consider him a threat to national security, as well as N.A.S.A. who are determined to keep him grounded.

In an effort to sound him out, N.A.S.A. sends a Colonel (Bruce Willis), to Charles to inspect his rocket and offer him a chance to ride on a future shuttle mission if he abandons his efforts.

Undaunted, Charles continues to follow his dream and soon finds himself the center of a media circus and under constant surveillance from Government agents.

As the tensions mount so does the pending foreclosure as well as concern in the family that they are possibly going to lose everything they cherish due to Charles determination to see his dream out at all costs.

Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen are great together and have a real chemistry that not only helps the audience connect to their characters but makes it easy to root for them.

The duo drives this solid and highly entertaining film from the Polish Brothers who are quickly making a name for themselves with their solid body of work. The story could in some hands be dismissed as fluff but under the guidance of the Polish Brothers and the easygoing charm of Thornton and Madsen, the film soars and is a very pleasant and enjoyable surprise.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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