The Astronaut Farmer

The Astronaut Farmer
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: PG
Release Date: 2007-02-23
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Michael Polish
WorkNameSort: Astronaut Farmer, The
Our Rating: 4.50
Old-fashioned American movie optimism collides with the grim realities of a post-Sept. 11 world in The Astronaut Farmer, a space Western/social commentary that marks an unpredictable leap forward ' though many will say backward ' for filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish (Northfork). Billy Bob Thornton's Charlie Farmer, a once-aspiring astronaut relegated to running his family's ranch, devotes all of his time and money to the building of a rocket ship at home, much to the chagrin of his patient but long-suffering wife (Virginia Madsen) and the naive delight of his three starry-eyed children. Banks, the media, the FAA and the FBI are breathing down his neck; the latter uses the Patriot Act to keep Farmer under 24-hour surveillance. The Polish brothers recognize the futility of pursuing a radical act in the wake of a terror attack, but the film is hardly a product of today's hip cynicism. Coming off like Horatio Alger in a spacesuit, The Astronaut Farmer is anachronistic in a refreshing way, echoing the persistent can-do industriousness of classic Americana, where working hard to achieve your goal is all that matters. Equal parts tragic pathos and triumphant gusto, this affecting film is ultimately about love, family and commitment, none of which are currently high-grossing or marketable concepts.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.