The Astronaut Farmer
Either way, "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heap of rugged individualism, perched atop a silo of corn. It's an all-ages fable made by folks (identical twins Michael and Mark Polish) who aren't pushing a political agenda, at least consciously. Their story's anti-government, pro-visionary crackpot stance transcends politics. Nonetheless the libertarians in particular should be pleased. The problem with America, according to this half-baked but warmly acted affair, is that it just won't let amateur rocketeers do their thing.
The Polish brothers have made three small films prior to "The Astronaut Farmer": "Twin Falls
It's meant to be a tall tale, and Thornton emits just enough low-level strangeness as a screen actor to keep the role, and the film, from pure reverence. There are setbacks, but Farmer believes and dreams and pounds away in his lavishly scaled, rocket-sized barn out back. Thornton walks a fine line with no little finesse. Madsen holds down the fort with grace and authority.
When the plot calls for it, Farmer, hauled up before a scowling committee of the mean ol'
A better line in the Polish brothers' screenplay states the Farmers' domestic scene succinctly: "Without the rocket, we're just a dysfunctional family." Even with the rocket, it's a dysfunctional movie. I sort of liked it anyway, at least parts of it. The actors made me.