It makes me feel almost dirty to even complain about a movie as well-intentioned as "The Astronaut Farmer." And for sure, as entertainment for the whole family goes, you could certainly do a LOT worse than this goofy little flick from the Polish brothers.
But somehow I was just expecting something more.
At it's best, it does have a real "Tucker" feel to it, reviving that can-do spirit with relish. And the bros. Polish treat the heartland with genuine respect, as they have in previous movies like "Twin Falls, Idaho." When your main character is a rancher who just wants to launch a rocket, you're gonna have quirky, but their characters always seem real to me.
So what's the problem? Well, if I'm gonna give in to the goofy this far, I need magic. I know it's a lot to ask, but if you're gonna strive for Capra and have your lead character deliver earnest speeches about the need to always follow your dreams, you have to make us believe in it too, but for long stretches in the middle of this flick I was just bored.
That certainly wasn't the fault of the main performers here, who dived into the story headfirst. Billy Bob's Farmer is a family-friendly kind of kook, but you can tell throughout that he's a tightly wound ball that could explode at any moment. His encounters with the evil men who deal in acronyms like WMD and FAA are very funny. And Virginia Madsen, as his enabling wife, is as good as usual. She certainly deserves better than starring in two instantly forgettable movies in one weekend, but she's always a welcome sight.
I hesitate to use letters or stars to grade a movie because it just simplifies things too much to me, but this is one movie that's just crying out for a grade. I'd give it a B-, with the charming, throwback approach just barely outweighing it's lack of energy. See it with these warnings in mind, and I think you'll mostly enjoy the ride.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 3:33 AM