Thornton#039;s Astronaut Farmer grows dreams

by Beacon Staff • February 21, 2007

Two brothers, writer/director/producer Michael Polish and his twin, writer/producer Mark, have made a film that explores what it is to follow one's dreams, no matter what other people think.,For anyone who believes in following dreams, The Astronaut Farmer awaits.

Two brothers, writer/director/producer Michael Polish and his twin, writer/producer Mark, have made a film that explores what it is to follow one's dreams, no matter what other people think.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Charles Farmer, a man who has wanted to be an astronaut since childhood. After earning a degree in aerospace engineering and joining the Air Force, the next logical step was to join NASA's astronaut training program.

Unfortunately, due to a family problem, Farmer was forced to quit NASA.

He was not going to let his dream go with that. With whole-hearted dedication, this slightly off-beat farmer decides to build his own rocket in a barn on his Texas property. Luckily, Farmer landed the perfect family to help him reach his goals.

His wife Audie (Virginia Madsen) and their children dedicate their lives to the endeavor and it becomes the whole family's project.

The Polish twins (Twin Falls Idaho) beautifully capture the struggle of what it is like to dedicate your life to something in the film. Both the brothers described their movie-making process as being kind of sporadic; they never meant to get into Hollywood.

"Making a movie is like building a rocket," Michael Polish said in an interview with The Beacon.

It is clear throughout the film that no dream, whether it is building a rocket or making a movie, is easy. Things will always stand in your way.

The major conflict Farmer faces is lack of funding for his rocket. His family leads a simple life and they do not have very much money.

When Farmer applies for a loan, the banker, who he's known forever, rejects him for being overdue on a payment.

The charming banker, played by Rick Overton, is one of the best characters in the movie. Although he's Farmer's friend, he must deny him the funds.

Thornton is endearing as the dreamer, Farmer. Even with a face that is known by many, he is so convincing in character that it's easy for audiences to forget that they are watching Billy Bob.

"I see a lot of myself in Farmer; I grew up on a farm, I know what it's like," Thornton said in an interview with The Beacon. Thornton also said that he could relate to Farmer's dedication, and this was clear through his portrayal of the part.

To go with the concept of reaching for dreams and the stars (literally), The Astronaut Farmer manages to throw in some societal criticism as well.

"Actually I think [the government is] pretty good at assassinating people who have dreams," Farmer says at one point. It's an interesting touch, because a family-based movie like this is not the kind of film that would seem controversial at first glance.

The politics are not over-bearing, though.

"The movie did not really upset that many people," said Mark Polish.

Even with a convincing turn from Thornton, a well thought out idea and a decent script, The Astronaut Farmer still lacks that feel good quality that will bring people of all ages to the box office.

The movie's running time of 105 minutes is also a little taxing and the middle starts to drag.

Families and children may be amused by the hopefulness of the film but unless you are a big dreamer, save your ten bucks for the next big thing that rolls around.