The Astronaut Farmer (2006)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi  |  23 February 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 19,238 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 128 user | 112 critic | 28 from

A NASA astronaut (Thornton), forced to retire years earlier so he could save his family farm, has never given up his dream of space travel and looks to build his own rocket, despite the government's threats to stop him.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Logan Polish ...
Kevin Munchak
Arnold 'Arnie' Millard
Chopper Miller
Madison Roberts


Texan Charles Farmer left the Air Force as a young man to save the family ranch when his dad died. Like most American ranchers, he owes his bank. Unlike most, he's an astrophysicist with a rocket in his barn - one he's built and wants to take into space. It's his dream. The FBI puts him under surveillance when he tries to buy rocket fuel; the FAA stalls him when he files a flight plan - it's post-9/11, after all. His wife is angry when she finds out their bank is initiating foreclosure. Charlie fears failure and decides, precipitously, to launch. Are twenty-first century American dreams just a sign of insanity? Are those who believe in dreamers only fools? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rocket | bank | fbi | space travel | fuel | See All (157) »


If we don't have our dreams, we have nothing.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material, peril and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 February 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Astronaut Farmer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,454,319 (USA) (23 February 2007)


$10,996,440 (USA) (20 April 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Farmer is about to launch, Shepard says: "Cleared for launch at zero hour nine AM," an homage to the Elton John song "Rocket Man." See more »


A photo shows Thornton's character wearing a pressure suit and standing by an X-15 rocket plane, implying he flew it while in the Air Force. The X-15s final flight was in October, 1968... meaning the character would be well over 60 years old. See more »


Charles Farmer: So, what do you wanna be when you get out of here?
Child #2: I don't know.
Charles Farmer: What do you mean, you don't know?
Child #2: I don't know.
Charles Farmer: Well, let me tell you something, you better know what you wanna do before somebody knows it for you. Trust me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the credits, an interview on The Tonight Show is shown between Farmer and Jay Leno. Pictures play during the credits as well. See more »


References The Right Stuff (1983) See more »


John Saw That Number
Written and Performed by Neko Case
Courtesy of Anti
See more »

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User Reviews

An astonishing film, easily one of the year's best
24 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's clear a lot of critics don't know what to make of this movie. It's best described as mostly a fantasy with naturalistic elements. The emotions are real, they are strong, and the film is always grounded in the earth. But you are never quite sure where it is going. It will veer into farce, then melodrama, then social commentary, and back again. It seems to be taking place in the present day, yet not quite: the sensibilities are from the 60s, the entrepreneurial we-can-do-it spirit from the 80s, and the despair from the 00s. It is strange, and it is dreamlike, and at times it seems to barely make sense, but it all works. The audience I was with was enthralled and almost all of them stayed through the end of the credits -- a good sign indeed.

I can imagine what the high-concept presentation must have been like: "It's just your typical save-the-farm family drama, only dad is a . . ."

"Don't tell me. A space alien," yawns the studio-head.

"Well, close, but not quite. He's a former astronaut who may be a nut case, we're never quite sure."

The studio-head is a little more interested. "And he;s planning to blow up the world?"

"No, though a lot of people think he is."

The head of the studio thinks about. "I think I like it. Throw in some cute kids and we've got ourselves a movie."

I'm being cynical, of course, and this is not a cynical movie. There is not a false note in it in fact, the music is perfect, the cinematography is first-rate, the casting is superb (watch for Bruce Dern looking very similar to Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies). While inspirational, follow your dream movies usually don't work for me, this one does, it has such an amazingly goofy charm that only the stiffest of film critics could resist it (and alas, according to that well-known movie review site, as I write this just under 40% don't get it.) If this movie in not on most 10-best lists at year-end, it is going to be one heck of a year.

I don't know if the film is going to do well. Early box office looks weak, but word- of-mouth may help. See it in a theater now if you are at all hesitant. This one will be remembered.

One final note: something like this story could actually happen in a generation or two, assuming humanity doesn't destroy itself. That spaceship-in-the-barn tale will make a great movie when it does. This story makes a great movie now.

37 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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