Film: The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
Director: Michael Polish
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen
Written by: Mark & Michael Polish
On its own merits, The Astronaut Farmer doesn’t qualify as Bizarro cinema. It’s an overly earnest and sappy film which chronicles the obsessive quest of farmer Charles Farmer (get it?) to build a rocket and blast off into space. Aside from a scene involving a brick thrown through a bank window, a clever quip dismissing the rocket’s potential as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (because the government wouldn’t have found it if it was one), and a cameo by Bruce Willis playing a guardedly supportive ex-astronaut, this story of a family of dreamers overcoming adversity is downright formulaic.
Yet I do have a solid reason for inducting The Astronaut Farmer into Bizarro canon, and that is because its packaging has the strangest talk-up of a film that I’ve ever seen. Kind of a strange criterion, I know, but this is much more than a simple matter of bad, punny taglines. The film’s description of itself is so mind-boggling that the only reasonable explanation for its existence is heavy use of hard drugs, or at least the work of a publicist who hadn’t slept for a week. Don’t believe me? Behold The Astronaut Farmer’s epic self-analysis, in all its glory.
“All systems are ‘Go’ for Charles Farmer. He’s faced bank foreclosure, neighborhood naysayers and a government alarmed by his huge purchase of high-grade fuel, but now he’s ready to blast into space inside the homemade rocket he built in his barn. Just be home in time for dinner, Charlie.
“Billy Bob Thornton portrays Charlie in this charmer about chasing dreams… and about what it means to be a family. 10,000 pounds of rocket fuel alone can’t lift Charlie into the heavens. He needs a launch/recovery crew, and he has one of the best: his wife (Virginia Madsen) and children, dreamers all. They have liftoff. Our spirits have uplift. Gravity cannot hold down our dreams. The Astronaut Farmer is that kind of movie.”
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