The Astronaut Farmer

Rated 3.0

A Texas rancher (Billy Bob Thornton) may have dropped out of the NASA space program years ago, but he never gave up the dream; he’s been building a rocket in his barn in which he intends to orbit the earth, no matter what NASA or the Department of Homeland Security says. The script by brothers Mark and Michael Polish (Michael also directs with a loving hand) is scientifically implausible, even laughable, but emotionally it’s irresistible—a boy’s-own-fantasy amalgam of The Right Stuff and Field of Dreams. The film is bathed in golden tones of sunny optimism, and nothing—not NASA, not the FBI, nor Child Protective Services or a foreclosing bank—is allowed to daunt our hero for long. Thornton, playing a good guy for once, radiates aw-shucks virtue, matched by Virginia Madsen as his loyal, loving wife.