The Astronaut Farmer – DVD Review

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Michael Polish


Billy Bob Thornton ………. Charles Farmer
Virginia Madsen ………. Audrey “Audie” Farmer
Bruce Dern ………. Hal
Tim Blake Nelson ………. Kevin Munchak
Max Thieriot ………. Shepard Farmer
Jasper Polish ………. Stanley Farmer
Logan Polish ………. Sunshine Farmer
Mark Polish ………. FBI Agent Mathis
Jon Gries ………. FBI Agent Killbourne
Sal Lopez ………. Pepe Garcia
J.K. Simmons ………. FAA Director Jacobson

The Movie

In the genre of “follow-your-dreams” films, you often have to be willing to suspend disbelief. Like It’s a Wonderful Life or Field of Dreams before it, The Astronaut Farmer requires you to look past what seems to be impossible and believe that anything is possible. Basically, if you can dream it and work hard at that dream you can do anything you want to do. That includes launching yourself into outer space.

The Astronaut Farmer stars Billy Bob Thornton as Charlie Farmer. A former astronaut, Charlie quit NASA’s program when tragedy struck on his family’s farm back in Texas. However, having always wanted to go into space, Charlie has taken his can-do spirit and built a rocket ship in an empty grain silo on his property. When the Feds get wind of him trying to purchase a rather large quantity of rocket fuel, the debate begins regarding whether or not Farmer should be able to launch his rocket and fulfill his dream. With his 15-year-old son, Shepherd (Max Theriot), as his one-man ground-control operation, Charlie eventually blasts off, much to the government’s chagrin.

The plot of the film looks ridiculous. It would be impossible to build your own rocket and launch yourself into outer space without NASA’s help, right? Yes, that is likely improbable, but you never know in America today. Nonetheless, for this movie to work you have to look past logic. It is here where the film is a little confusing. It would seem that kids would easily be more able to believe in the plot of this movie. Yet they would likely be bored during the majority of the film. There are LONG stretches in this film where this is no action, just interaction between characters. Adults would be most interested in the relationships between characters, but they would also have to look past logic and believe the near impossible storyline of the film.

As for the acting, it’s decent. Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen do great jobs in their roles. The supporting cast could have been a little better, but it’s not awful or anything. Probably the best thing about this movie is the interaction between Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen on camera and the relationship between their characters.

The last 20 minutes of the film will have you cheering in your seat, if you can overcome the logic and believe this is actually possible. If you can’t, it will be hard to sit through until the end as not a lot happens between the first few minutes to the last few minutes. It is a family film, but don’t be shocked if you have to wake up your kids before the final minutes of the movie take place. Maybe if the film had more moments of true comedy in it, it would be easier for us to stay with the movie and really get inspired by this film. The message is still clear, but it often gets buried underneath a lot of rocket junk.

The Video:

The video is given in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video is pretty good and comparable to other new release DVDs. Nothing too special, but it’s the launch scenes are certainly visually stunning.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. No problems real problems here either. The music and dialogue comes out loud and clear.

The Extras:

“How to Build a Rocket: The Making of The Astronaut Farmer” Featurette
This is a 30 minute featurette about everything you want to know about this film. We hear from the cast and crew about how this movie came about, how it was made, problems making the film, and every other question you may have about the film. The usual standard stuff here.

A Conversation with NASA Astronaut David Scott
A short conversation with a real astronaut, David Scott. He talks about his experiences in space and a little bit about the film in general. It’s fairly interesting, but a little too short.

Bloopers and Outtakes
These are funnier than anything in the movie, so if you want comedy go to these bloopers from the film.


It’s hard to find what audience this movie is trying to get as it is a family film that is not that interesting to kids, minus the last 20 minutes of the film. Adults will also have a hard time getting past the logic of the film. I can only really recommend a rental for those looking for a somewhat entertaining yet flawed film.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Astronaut Farmer
(OUT OF 10)