Space Cowboy
The Astronaut Farmer
Review by Ross Anthony

Personal dream/goal oriented with a splash of the surreal – I love these kind of films. What a wonderful contrast to put an astronaut on a horse. The first few quiet moments of this picture are fantastic. Billy Bob donning a full space suit hops off his horse into the desert sand to pick up a stray calf – the big gray blue clouded sky whispers wonder. I wish the rest of the film packed a punch like that scene. But instead, I found what followed seemed to trot off into the awkward. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Casting? Were I to read this script and hear the name Billy Bob, I’d yelp, “Yes, perfect!” Unfortunately, he wasn’t perfect and I don’t know why. Scripting? Could be, while each scene is cute, seldom do any hold the sincerity or the depth of character I kept expecting. There is a reference in the film to a David Lynch flick called “The Straight Story” about an old farmer who drives a lawnmower across a couple of states to see his brother. I wanted this film to have that kind of genuineness – but it only almost does.

Additionally, the FAA and CIA and FBI guys are stereotyped into caricatures. They’re good for comic relief, but lack in drama. Yes, lacking serious drama - that’s what I missed in this picture. Bruce Willis even makes a cameo – but likewise, can’t give weight to his presence. Why not recruit a real astronaut?

I also had a fundamental thematic problem with the picture. The film communicates rather loudly, “Don’t give up on your dreams.” I like that. However, the character doing his best to demonstrate that morality doesn’t seem to respect others as he stubbornly focuses on only his own goals. This tarnishes the main theme. I like that he has his faults, but he’s doing more than just stepping on toes – he’s stamping on feet. And for me to forgive him, I need to see not only more remorse from him, but I need to see him redeem himself in a soulful and cinematically satisfying way. And that has to be in addition to achieving his goals – not the result (which the film thinks is enough).

That said there are still elements to like, especially the big beautiful idea of it all. I love that and the first few minutes. And all told, the film does give great climax. Unfortunately, the writing (and perhaps direction) is somewhat rickety – I kept wanting to get a hold of the script and rewrite it myself.

(I love space. If this film has sparked your interest in space check out http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/ to find out the time and location of the international space station fly over in your area. Or to see what’s going on right now regarding blasting civilians into space check VirginGalactic.com and soon PlanetSpace.com. Lastly, if like me, you love stories that encourage personal dreams see http://rossanthony.com/books/bookcontest.shtml)

-- Book Contest --


  • The Astronaut Farmer. Copyright © 2007.
  • Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen, Bruce Dern, Tim Blake Nelson.
  • Directed by Michael Polish.
  • Screenplay by Mark Polish & Michael Polish.
  • Produced by Mark Polish, Paula Weinstein, Len Amato, Michael Polish at WarnerBros/SpringCreek.

Grade..........................B (2/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Monday, 26-Feb-2007 12:04:46 PST