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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Astronaut Farmer frustrates realist

Even though a man farms by trade, his thoughts reside in the stars while he spends time building a rocket in his barn. Sound ridiculous? It is.

In The Astronaut Farmer, Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thorton), a farmer, made obvious by his last name, is unable to forget his childhood aspirations of becoming an astronaut. After being discharged from the military, he returns to his farm, but refuses to let his lifelong dream come to an end.

He builds a rocket by hand from NASA?s junkyard pieces and finds a space suit of mysterious origins (he tells an elementary class he picked it up after somebody threw it away). He obsesses over his rocket while indoctrinating his family into his strange fetish: his high school son, Shepard (Max Thieriot) lives in a space themed room and the family plays an ?I?m going to the moon and I?m bringing?? game at dinner. The whole atmosphere of the family?s fixation is creepy.

Farmer?s experimentation with the rocket results in debt. According to the bank, he is $600,000 overdue and his house will be foreclosed. Despite his eccentricity with rockets, Farmer has been fairly likeable up to this point. This changes when he refuses to listen to the bank, throws a brick through the window and refrains from telling his wife (Virginia Madsen) about the foreclosure.

Dreams are an important part of life, but it is not okay for Farmer to put his entire family at risk in order to chase a surreal goal. His lack of responsibility makes it difficult to sympathize with the adversity he attempts to overcome.

Farmer catches the government?s attention when he attempts to buy 10,000 lbs. of rocket fuel. The government feels he is a threat to public safety and though they are depicted as the ?bad guys,? they have a point. How could the government be expected to stand around and let a man experiment with enough fuel to launch a rocket into orbit? The media makes Farmer something of a national hero and the town of Story, Texas swarms with cameras and reporters. Thus the movie moves onto its climax.

From the very start (the opening scene is Farmer riding on a horse herding cattle in his space suit) the movie is too ridiculous to take seriously. Though it does have a moral, never give up on your dreams, the message is dubious because it also adds the footnote that it is okay to endanger others to attain those dreams.

Farmer?s childlike and selfish obsession makes it difficult to relate with him. Smaller details in the movie, such as an inheritance of $300,000, which takes care of the $600,000 debt, seems illogical.

Overall, the movie was not worth spending $7 to view in theatres. Though younger kids who enjoy the idea of space may enjoy it, the movie creates confusion and may frustrate those with a realistic viewpoint.

Due to thematic material, peril and language, The Astronaut Farmer is rated PG.

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