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DVD Review

The Astronaut Farmer


Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern and Max Thieriot
Warner Home Video
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: 12
Available 24 March 2008

After the death of his father, Charles Farmer quit the American Air Force to resurrect his family's deteriorating Texas ranch. Charles always wanted to be an astronaut, but he's given up his career to keep his late father's dream alive. Although he owes money to the bank and struggles to keep the farm afloat he still has his dream - and a rocket ship in his barn...

The Astronaut Farmer is one of those films that to really appreciate you have to immerse yourself in the story, ignore the absurdity of it all, and just go wherever it takes you. If you start thinking too hard the whole movie falls apart. For example, how on Earth did Charles manage to get into so much debt? Why did he build his rocket right next to his house? And why build it in a wooden barn - that will burn to the ground should he ever get it fired up?

But, if you don't look too deeply, this is a satisfying feel good movie that reminds us that we should keep that dream, whatever it is, alive. In fact the movie is loosely based on real life inventor Brian Walker, who has designed and built a rocket that he hopes will take him to the edge of space and back.

There were only a couple of moments that felt out of place in this film. There are very few laugh-out-loud moments, so the whole sequence when Charles attempts to launch the rocket for the first time seemed incredibly out of place. And then there was the scene with the whoops and high fives (in what I assume was NASA).

Bruce Willis makes a surprise, uncredited, appearance which was very welcome. And I also enjoyed The Tonight Show with Jay Leno segments. Billy Bob Thornton does an incredible job of taking the character and making him come across as slightly uncomfortable in the TV studio.

Extras include How to Build a Rocket: The Making of The Astronaut Farmer (28 min, 23 sec behind the scenes footage which includes interviews with cast and crew); Bloopers and Outtakes (8 min, 44 sec); and A Conversation with David Scott - NASA Astronaut (2 min, 45 sec quick chat with Scott on the movie's premise).

While this might be a little too dry for some, and way too silly for others, I'd recommend giving The Astronaut Farmer a chance. At under a tenner you can't really go wrong.


Darren Rea

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