The Astronaut Farmer
By Cynthia Fuchs,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Billy Bob dreams of space in uneven fantasy drama.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Charlie is dedicated to his dream of spaceflight, and his family supports him, even when his obsession threatens their financial well-being; federal agents look menacing.
Violence & Scariness
Discussion of suicide (an adult child recalls his father's death); Charlie throws a brick through the bank window when he gets a foreclosure notice; angry Audie throws a plate at Charlie; sad scene in which Audie finds her father dead in his bed; first launch features an explosion and crash that leaves Charlie bloody and broken, then laid up in the hospital.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual slang ("getting laid").
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Mild language, used infrequently and casually: "s--t," "ass," "son of a bitch," "damn it." Some name-calling ("space cadets," "stupid").
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Products & Purchases
Product sponsorship is a thematic concern of the movie (Farmer seeks commercial endorsements to finance the rocket, including Dunkin Donuts, Dairy Queen); other brand names mentioned or shown include Tang, Target, Volkswagen, Coca Cola, John Deere, and Lucky Charms.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Rancher drinks beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an uplifting family-friendly fantasy populated by realistic characters and settings. Younger kids might need some context to understand emotional scenes involving a grandfather's death and a rocket crashing. A character throws a brick through a bank window in anger, and a wife throws a plate at her husband. Kids in the family have to deal with their father's reputation for being "crazy," and his wife has to contend with financial hardship in wake of her husband's obsession. One rocket launch results in an explosion and crash that leaves Charlie in the hospital (some blood). Mild language, including "ass" and "s--t."
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Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
A Laugh-Out-Loud Movie...But Not In a Good Way
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What's the Story?
A former astronaut who had to leave the space program to tend to family issues, Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) still wants to be an astronaut in the worst way. By day, he works on his ranch (sometimes wearing his space suit); at night, he builds a rocket in the barn, with the goal of orbiting his capsule one time around the earth. The enormity of the project is daunting. Charlie leaves daily life details to his infinitely patient wife Audie (Virginia Madsen). Even when she discovers that Charlie has nearly bankrupted the family ("You're supposed to keep us safe"), Audie doesn't quite put a stop to the adventure. A visit from her own ailing father (Bruce Dern) makes her think hard about men's limits and aspirations, and how best to help them understand both.
Is It Any Good?
Part frontier myth, part family saga, and part redemption story, this disparate drama is about dreaming, sacrifice, and obsession. Charlie remains fixated despite money troubles, legal threats, and taunts. His quirky outlook recalls the Polish brothers' earlier films (Northfork, Twin Falls Idaho), but the one in this movie is more literal. It's also too dependent on Audie as a "device." Like many women in the movies, she bears and expresses the emotional costs of Charlie's masculine dreaming.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether this movie is a fantasy, a drama, or both. What makes something a fantasy? Families can also discuss how Charlie's two major responsibilities -- to follow his dream and support his family -- conflict with each other. Does he make a good choice? How does his desire to orbit his rocket both inspire and frighten his children? What obstacles does Charlie face? How does Audie support her husband?
- In theaters: February 22, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: July 10, 2007
- Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern, Virginia Madsen
- Director: Michael Polish
- Inclusion Information: Indigenous actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, peril and language.
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
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