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The Reluctant Astronaut
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Reluctant Astronaut More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Top Knotts, in Space

Author: noyb cutshall
26 April 2006

Knotts plays a man who works at the local kiddieland as an "astronaut" for a children's ride. His war hero father's dream is to have Knotts be a real astronaut but Knotts is afraid of heights and most important, he is afraid of disappointing his father.

Knotts has a very good outing in this outer space flick. He brings the usual "I'm scared to death" character that made Knotts a star on both TV and film. Knotts was allowed to develop this character from a man who couldn't better himself and had no pride, into a space hero that the community looked up to.

This is a good family movie from the 60's and it's top for Knotts.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A lovable flick

Author: russjd from United States - New York - Long Island
20 September 2006

A lovable - adorable - cute - funny flick - great for very young kids - wonderful - i loved it when i was a kid and its still better than all the violent bad mouth pictures parents let their kids watch to day! how could you not like it? anyone who says different is a grumpy olé fart!

(After learning that his father has signed him up for the space program)- already a classic! the best is yet to come!

(When NASA decides to launch a lay person into space to prove the worthiness of a new automated spacecraft, Roy gets the chance to confront his fears) now the fun really hits the mark!

this is even better for all of us who grew up with a space programs

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Great When I Was A Kid, But Now . . .

Author: Big from United States
14 March 2005

I LOVE Don Knotts, let me just say that up-front! He is an enormous talent and the best at what he does, which is portray a nervous, lovably befuddled loser thrown into a position of authority. He is fabulous in this role as Roy Fleming, the Reluctant Astronaut, but the film is pretty dull, really, even though as a kid my brother and I delighted in watching this and his other films. It's still worth watching but really it's a film that is best enjoyed by children. I'd categorize it as 100% family-friendly and something you could sit down and watch with your kids on a family night.

As with all of Knotts' films, there's a great cast of beloved character actors and you can't help but smile when Knotts gives one of his shaky, open-mouthed stares, no matter how old and jaded you are.

From an adult perspective, one thing I think that is great about this film is how it captures NASA in the 1960s -- all the new modern buildings, the hope, the optimism, the future! And I was surprised at how suave and studly Leslie Neilsen was back then. Only complaint about the story is Roy's love interest, a rather threadbare, unlikeable woman who can't give him the time of day until he becomes a big shot -- if you're like me, you'll be hoping that he gives her the shove-off at the end. Beware -- you'll be whistling the theme tune for days after watching, it's that catchy.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Don Knots goofiness

Author: fomlife777 from United States
2 December 2008

Despite the unrealistic final act that results from a pretty ordinary wacky sitcom premise, RA is able to deliver the out of orbit laughs it deserves due to comic legend and extraordinary nerdy actor, Don Knots. Leslie Nelson co-stars as a straight non-wacky non-funny man. It's interesting to see him play it straight after watching him in so many satirical and parody-type films.

It may not be the smartest comedy ever to hit the screen, but it's fun and you could stick it in your DVD player and not have to worry about what lasting effect it would leave on your young ones. It may be somewhat unrealistic but it works and is still smarter and more intelligent then a lot of kid themed flicks that are made today. You can even pick out the logical inconsistencies with your kids and make it into a educational film, while still having a fun time.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Thin, dated, but clean comedy

Author: m2dad from Arizona
13 September 1999

Typical Don Knotts humor though The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was by far a better film. Thin, dated, but clean comedy that might be enjoyed by younger kids, or adults who are nostalgic for that type of 60's genre. Very much reminiscent of the Disney comedies churned out in the 60's. Don Knotts plays a kiddieland "Astronaut" who applies to NASA. He is hired, not as an Astronaut as his family thinks, but a janitor.

To show up the Russians and show off American technology NASA decides to put someone in space who is totally unqualified. Naturally our hero gets the call with at first disastrous results. Not much action and storyline and as usual Knotts' love interest is mismatched. The film might seem like a breath of fresh air to parents considering what Hollywood often exposes us to these days. But contemporary kids will probably have a hard time sitting through The Reluctant Astronaut since there is no chase scenes, violence, sex, and foul language.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Scared Of Heights.

Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
2 November 2013

Don Knotts stars as amusement park ride operator Roy Fleming, who is afraid of heights, but whose father Buck(played by Arthur O'Connell) sends in a job application on his behalf to NASA, and is surprised to find that Roy has been hired! Upon arrival in Houston, Roy is dismayed to learn that he is a janitor, not an astronaut, and his supervisor(played by Jessie White) isn't sympathetic at all, though a friendly Major(played by Leslie Nielsen) does offer friendship, despite Roy's outrageous efforts to convince his family he is really an astronaut... Silly and thin comedy is quite innocuous as family friendly entertainment, but too unbelievable and predictable to succeed.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Another Exhibition for the Likeable Don Knotts.

Author: tfrizzell from United States
4 July 2002

Small-time carnival operator Don Knotts gets enlisted to work for NASA by his father. Of course the job Knotts has gotten is to be a janitor in Houston. Now Knotts must lie to all his friends and relatives to make them think that he is a real astronaut. NASA is in need of funds though and they show their confidence in their program by coming up with an idea to send a non-astronaut into outer space. Get the picture? A funny little film that is once again an exhibition of Knotts' talents. Leslie Nielsen is priceless as the astronaut assigned to be Knotts' primary instructor. A film that plays more like a long television show rather than an actual motion picture. Fair in the end. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One for the Late-Nite Stoner Brigade

Author: yakuzaplacemat1215 from Aulendorf
1 May 2011

Alan Rafkin (1928-2001, who mostly directed television shows and was nominated for four Emmies and won one in 1982) directed his last bit-screen film with "The Reluctant Astronaut" in 1971. Taking place in a small fictional town, a bungling city accountant, Hollis Alexander Figg (Don Knotts), becomes the unwitting patsy of the town's mayor (Mayor Chisholm played by Edward Andrews), the town's wealthiet man (Old Charley Spaulding played by Parker Fennelly) as well as several other high-ranking city officials who have been embezzling the town's money. To prevent from being caught, the embezzlers fire all of the town's accountants, except for Hollis so that he can operate their newly purchased (but used), room-filling computer known as LEO. While demonstrating the computer to his friend Prentiss Gates (Frank Welker), Hollis stumbles upon a questionable city contract that Prentiss (who works for the city's sanitation department) has in his waste collection cart. To keep Hollis from finding any other questionable financial statements, Mayor Chisholm appoints Hollis to be a commissioner with his own private secretary, Glorianna Hastings (Yvonne Craig, who is better known as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in the 1966-1968 TV series "Batman") to the chagrin Hollis' girlfriend, Ema Letha Kusic (Elaine Joyce), who works as a diner waitress. Hollis remains oblivious to being used until Old Charley Spaulding is ready to lower the boom upon him and is forced to find a way to prove his innocence. "How To Frame A Figg" isn't known as well as some of his previous films ("The Incredible Mr. Limpet" in 1964, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" in 1966, etc.) due to its somewhat weak plot, but it's still a very funny film that can entertain both children and adults alike. Memorable scenes in the film include Hollis' fingers getting stuck in a bowling ball, Old Charlie Spaulding using his cane in city hall meetings, the ketchup scene at the diner, the garbage truck delivery, and the search for extension cords. Overall, I rate "The Reluctant Astronaut" with 4 out of 5 stars. Other memorable characters in the film include Kermit Sanderson (Joe Flynn, 1925-1995), Commissioner Henderson (Bill Zuckert, 1915-1979) and Dr. Schmidt (Pitt Herbert, 1902-1980).

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Low-budget nostalgia

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
5 June 2007

After leaving TV's popular "The Andy Griffith Show", Don Knotts gave movie stardom a valiant try with a series of inane but matinée-pleasing comedy vehicles. Unfortunately, "The Reluctant Astronaut", filmed on the cheap (as were most of Knotts' movies), is much worse than his others. Don plays a small town schnook who gets accepted to Astronaut Training camp...but not as a candidate for space travel--they want him as their new janitor! Some may say the weak satire capitalizes on Americans' then-fresh fever for the new age of technology, but the flick is really just a dim excuse to keep restless children occupied. It gets off to a good start, with an OK set-up and nostalgic locations, but it becomes increasingly more spiritless and idiotic. * from ****

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3 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Barney Fife in Space

Author: TVholic from New York
4 March 2006

This movie is all ultra-lightweight fluff, predictable from beginning to end. As a Don Knotts vehicle, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" was much better, with Knotts' character there not nearly as incompetent or ignorant. His performance there was toned down, with none of his trademark goggle-eyed stare, although that may have something to do with him being replaced for most of the movie by a cartoon fish. Knotts made a living of playing the likable imbecile, much like Bob Denver did. Neither really seemed to be able to break out to other types of roles, assuming they were simply typecast. It was probably because of the slouch, the wild stare and the high-pitched voice. John Ritter, whom Knotts worked with in "Three's Company," was able to transcend his genre, branching out successfully into dramatic roles like "The Dreamer of Oz," but the closest Knotts ever got was a small role in "Pleasantville." Even Leslie Nielsen was a bad fit here, uncomfortably neither straight dramatic actor as he was at the time nor deadpan comedic actor as he later became in "Airplane!" and "Police Squad."

There's also no way the then-43 year-old Knotts could pass for a 35 year-old, as his character insisted he was. It was as ludicrously unbelievable as Tom Hanks at 38 playing a college-age Forrest Gump.

The film was clearly made on a shoestring budget, very much looking like a hastily-filmed TV episode. It's especially evident in the "exterior" scenes of the "town" where Roy goes after he's fired. It's unlikely even a pre-schooler would be fooled by the Mayberry-like soundstage artificiality.

Even viewing this strictly as a children's movie, it's very disappointing. It's not because it lacks action or special effects, although it does. The pace is much too slow, the situations repetitive. How many times can you watch Roy getting onto or off a bus? A comedy for kids should at least sometimes be madcap, with breakneck gags, otherwise you risk boring them (and any adults in the theater as well). Movies, even kid's movies, have improved quite a bit in the intervening decades. Even many contemporary comedies were better filmed and written. Disney's "The Love Bug," for instance, at least had some interesting race action and much better character development.

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