The Astronaut Farmer

Billy Bob Thornton stars as the fictional Charles Farmer, a former NASA astronaut trainee from rural Texas who missed his chance to go into space when his father's death forced him return to the family farm and settle some debts. He's now bent on launching himself into orbit inside his own rocket, which he's built in his barn—with the full support of his family, if not government bureaucrats. This ode to harebrained dreaming by brothers Michael Polish (writer-director) and Mark Polish (writer), who also brought us Twin Falls Idaho and Jackpot, is supposed to be inspiring, but I found it a terrifying illustration of innocent American lunacy at its most self-infatuated. Thornton and his costars—Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern, Tim Blake Nelson, Richard Edson, and Bruce Willis in an uncredited cameo—do what they can with this questionable enterprise. PG, 104 min.

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