Movie Review

The Astronaut Farmer

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, peril and language.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Drama, Comedy, Family
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
February 23, 2007 (wide)
Featuring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Michael Polish
Producer: Paula Weinstein, Len Amato, Mark Polish
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“If we don’t have our dreams, we have nothing.”

Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) has a dream. He dreams of going into outer space. Dinner with the Farmer family involves discussing that dream, playing word games about it, and encouraging him to keep that dream alive. His wife, Audie (Virginia Madsen), believes in him. His children believe in him. But is believing in him enough for him to succeed.

Charlie was a pilot in the NASA program until his father’s death brings him home to the family farm. While Charlie cares for the farm, he builds a rocket in his barn. Building a rocket takes money, and Charlie is on the brink of financial disaster. He has about 30 days to build and fly his rocket before the bank takes his farm, and he has FBI, FAA, and NASA officials trying to keep him from flying. Can he succeed?

VIOLENCE: There was mild violence in this movie. In one scene, Charlie throws a brick through the bank window. He has a fight with his wife and throws space food around the kitchen and in response, Audie breaks some plates. He verbally threatens the bank appraiser. A car is chased by police, FBI, and other government officials, and officers pull their weapons on the driver. At one point, Charlie is seriously injured. While being driven to the hospital, Charlie’s bloody face is shown. There are a few references to suicide, and Charlie talks about his father killing himself. Audie’s father is found dead in bed.

LANGUAGE: There is one “Oh my God” in the film. There are a dozen or more times that bad language is used which includes: h-ll, d—n, a--, sh--, and son-of-a-b—ch. There is a “spanking paddle” with the word s-h-i-t. Charlie is sent to the school nurse for a psychological evaluation and when he says she told him in high school she would go to the moon with him, she responds “I thought that was about getting laid”. Someone says “science isn’t sexy”.

OTHER OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: There is no nudity in the film. There is one scene where Charlie is in bed with his wife and they kiss and touch. No parts are shown.

There are several scenes where adults are seen holding beers or drinking, but there is no drunkenness. Charlie goes into a bar to speak with a man about rocket fuel. Audie makes a comment about the planets not being aligned.

Some people who see this movie might object to Charlie defying the government and point to scripture to be obedient to the rulers. The other viewpoint can argue that without disobedience toward the government, America would not be a nation, and we would still have slavery. So I will avoid a lengthy discourse on the government, the Patriot Act, and civil disobedience.

There are some very good scenes that make some wonderful teachable moments. The morning after Charlie and Audie fight, she is getting the kids in the car and he thinks she is leaving. She says she is going to church because her and the kids have to learn something about forgiveness. From this you can talk to your children about forgiving and being forgiven. Jesus Christ offers us true and lasting forgiveness for our sins.

This movie is about believing in yourself and your dreams. It is about perseverance. You can do anything you put your mind to. Charlie’s family believes in him. His children adore him and he is a great dad. His son, Shephard (Max Thieriot), is his mission control. His daughters are his cheerleaders. Charlie believes in his family. While everyone says his son is too young to be his mission control because his is only 15, Charlie believes in him.

Before going to see this movie, I had preconceived notions about what I would think of it. I don’t like Billy Bob, the movie itself looked cheesy, and my family kept complaining about going to see it. I was pleasantly surprised at my feelings when I left the movie, and while I enjoyed this movie, I have to warn readers of the language in this movie. Although, some would not call it a “bad” movie, as far as language goes, there is quite a lot of it. So although I would like to recommend this movie, I would have to do so hesitantly.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Growing up, Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) had only one goal: to be an astronaut. Farmer was a natural for NASA’s astronaut training program and was well on his way when a family situation forced him to drop out and return home—effectively ending his career. But Farmer was not a man to let anything stand in the way of his dream—space travel. Sharing his vision are his wife Audie (Virginia Madsen), their children and father-in-law Hal (Bruce Dern), they were inspired as a family with a common purpose. But Farmer’s efforts catches the attention of the FBI… and subsequently the media, who encamp in droves outside his gate, speculating wildly about this “space cowboy” and his homemade rocket. Farmer finds himself depicted on TV screens worldwide as a renegade hero, inspiring an outpouring of popular support, while simultaneously drawing heavy scrutiny and surveillance from the government, who see him as a potential risk to civilian safety.

Farmer knows this is his only chance—not only to reach his goal but to instill in his children the courage to pursue their dreams and to never give up.”


Viewer Comments
Comments available:
Positive
Positive—This pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-smalltown film was a nice afternoon diversion. Without giving away any details, the film follows the dream of one man, and how his family strives to see that dream come true. Along the way, this family faces the unfortunate reality that, sometimes, chasing the dream of one man will render everyone else’s dream unimportant. The risks taken to fulfill this dream often seem to overshadow the intent. Throughout the film, I wondered if I should cheer this single-minded father who is inspiring his kids to dream… and dream big? Or should I pity this emotionally unstable man who is willing to gamble everything his family holds dear for a momentary thrill? Regardless of the answer, Astronaut Farmer made our family open up and talk about dreams and how God would have us use them. I would suggest this film for 8 and up. No bad language, no sex, no violence. There is one reference to someone getting lai*, but it’s barely audible. Great film for those who want to escape for awhile.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Diana O, age 38
Positive—Well, maybe I don’t know how to review films, hope I don’t give it way. I’d actually put morals at high. I did find a couple of scenes in the movie “hard to believe” and I don’t mean that a private individual trying to get into space on his own is hard to believe anymore. The film’s intended point apparently is “Never give up” and that sufficiently came through. I find joy at several other things. The marriage vow is quoted and honored. I will give this away to you, the wife and mother, instead of shielding the children from a bad marriage/family situations, will allow the whole family to be confronted by it, but seeks to teach the children forgiveness. I find joy in the support Farmer receives from his family. I find sadness at everyone else’s disbelief in the rocket, especially in the scenes of all the banners and signs being torn down. I find Joy in the scenes where farmer is trying to show that his family in not crazy and they portray it as real and not just for show. So someone with a bigger-than-life dream, is not a crazy person.

You might have heard 'The family that eats together, stays together.' This film says 'The family that Dreams together, stays together.'

We have reality in the Loan Manager, the end result being the family’s house can be taken away. On this point I feel I must say that under God we must be good stewards with what we have, not with what we don’t have. We ought to “do” things according to what we have been supplied. If you do not have the supplies for the mission, perhaps you should stop. A personal rocket launch is not the kind of thing you “bet the farm” on, or sacrifice your family for. This is not to say “give up.” Seeking another way to do something you believe in is good character. I would question devoting one’s life to such a project as Farmer did, but let’s set that aside as it is not the question the film is dealing with. The film makes a struggle with family questions. Functional, really educating, staying together, supportive.

At any rate, the lack of funds provides a strong dose of reality, and Farmers response though not Christian, is human, and expresses how we feel. Redemption comes by the death of someone and I see a consummation as the Family rides home again in the SUV.

The film’s answer to the struggles it portrays is the “Dream.” I suggest, of course, as a Christian, that the Hope of Christ in us is much more powerful, effecting a change in our hears and minds. There are three quotes from Charlie Farmer that I wish I could remember and right down in my book of quotes to keep forever and ever. This is a movie we should buy tickets for so that “Hollywood” knows what kind of movies to produce.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Jerome Monsen, age 39
Positive—The film exceeded my expectations. My wife, 20 year old son, 15 year old son and I all enjoyed the movie. It kept our attention throughout. Like one of the reviewers, I was a little hesistant about this film when I learned that Billy Bob Thornton starred in it. However, other than him using a couple of words that I never would use, I thought he was great in this film. I found the movie incredibly motivating and do recommend that others see it.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—B. James, age 48
Positive—Wonderful movie! Very clean and really touched human emotions. I loved it! It was so good; there was one scene where he was going to take off in the spaceshuttle that I actually got butterflies. I laughed and I cried and I totally plan on buying this movie when it comes out on DVD. The only SLIGHTLY objectional material was maybe 1-2 minor curse words that really didn’t even jump out at me. It was so nice to walk into a theater with my family and walk away feeling good for a change and not regretting my decision to see this movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
—Kelli, age 31
Negative
Negative—I viewed this movie last night. I was excited to see it but afterwards was very dissapointed. I expected when I see a PG movie with children to have 0-2 swear words in it not over a dozen. From what I can remember it had: 1 spoken s—t, 1 written s—t, 1 god d—n it, several a-s, several h—l, and a son of a b___h. I was blown away and felt very uncomforable because of it. I didn’t read the review before I went and seen it, I wish I had because I wouldn’t have seen it with children. If it was rated PG-13, I wouldn’t been as shocked, but it was PG. Otherwise, I thought the movie was good. I would have rather have waited to rent it and watched it being filtered out with my Guardian Angel filter than seeing it in the theater.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Bethany L., age 27
Negative—This movie has a great message about family, perseverence and commitment. It is wonderful to see such pro-family ideals and values exhibited on the big screen. However, I was extremely surprised and disappointed with the amount of language this movie contains for a PG-rating. My 7 year old son (whom I now realize was too young for this movie) immediately picked up on it at the beginning and said 'Mommy, they’re saying bad words, and I don’t like it.' We stayed for the entire movie, but it was with reservations. Also, one scene had strong sexual overtones with no nudity (the parents are in bed and he is caressing her and is very obviously wanting to make love to her.) That scene was not necessary, in my opinion. Without the language, it is a wonderful, positive family film. Unfortunately, the language ruins it.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Dotty O., age 43
Negative—This is not a movie to be viewed by the entire family—too many curse words for young children and warrants more than a PG rating
My Ratings: Offensive / 2½
—Kelly, age 33
Comments from young people
Positive—What a wholesome film! I am pleased to give it a 4½ of 5! Two objections though. Number 1, This film is moderate in language. Almost everyone swears, and almost all of the words are strong (no f-word though.) And Number 2, The amount of peril in this movie is GARGANTUAN! When he tries to lift off once, he fails and we see his bloody face in the hospital. He throws a brick in a bank window after he learns that he ows $60,000 to the bank for forgeting to pay monthly house payments. Overall, a great film, but probobly to intense for young children!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Kyle Endl, age 11
Neutral—I thought that I wouldn’t have to wash my ears out after seeing this movie but I was sadly mistaken, they used horrible words throughout the movie and its amazing that it was able to keep its PG rating, my younger brother was bored by this movie so don’t rent it for little kids unless they enjoy hearing grown-ups talk constantly and for that matter, they enjoy watching grown-ups cry and fight… I don’t recomend this movie unless you yourself are an aspiring astronaut.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Rebecca, age 16