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Film / The Astronaut Farmer

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The Astronaut Farmer is a 2006 American drama film directed by Michael Polish, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Mark.

The story focuses on Charles Farmer, a former astronaut-in-training who was discharged from the military before he could fulfill his dream of becoming an astronaut. Having missed the opportunity to travel into space, he decides to build a working replica of the Mercury-Atlas rocket in the barn on his secluded ranch in Texas with the ongoing support of his family. When he begins making inquiries about purchasing rocket fuel, the FBI and FAA step in to investigate (and the government officials make endless red tape to stall him beyond his deadline: foreclose on the farm), and the ensuing publicity thrusts Farmer into the spotlight and makes him a media darling.


This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: This time, its Billy Bob Thorton in the rocket seat and Bruce Willis at Mission Control...only there's no asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: One of the two government agents who are trying to prevent the titular farmer from building his rocket and going into space has "The Imperial March" as his ringtone, as part of their gradual descent over the course of the film from genuinely intimidating antagonists to Those Two Guys.
  • Deus ex Machina: All the Farmer family's financial troubles are solved when Grandpa dies and leaves them $100,000.
  • Farm Boy: With a slight twist; the titular character is a farmer who becomes an astronaut, but rather than the usual case of being whiny and resistant to the idea at first before changing his mind, he's wished to being an astronaut from the beginning. His name is even Charles Farmer.
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  • Gravity Sucks: One shining example of this trope is the eponymous character's reentry. After a de-orbit burn lasting less than a few seconds, the craft appears to stop, and just drops straight down.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The protagonist is a NASA astronaut who returns to his family farm to save it but never gives up his dream of being an astronaut. His name: Charles Farmer. And his son is named Shepperd Farmer.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Farmer freely admits that the government didn't mind him building a rocket until he tried to purchase a large quantity of rocket fuel, something which does and should raise red flags due to how dangerous it can be (really, any type of fuel is dangerous in large enough quantities because it's designed to burn).
  • Homemade Inventions: Farmer builds a spacecraft on his farm, though he still has to order parts that aren't on hand, like fuel and a rocket.
  • Leno Device: Used as a Credits Gag, with the farmer seen in photos appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The FAA Director swears blind that Farmer never launched, even though it was visible over most of Texas.
  • Running Gag: Ange's work friend saying the rocket is "so big."
  • Southern-Fried Genius: The titular character is a Texan rancher who could have become an astronaut had he not being discharged, then decides to construct his own rocket so he can travel to space.
  • Villain Decay: As mentioned above, the two FBI agents tasked with surveiling the Farmer Ranch go from intimidating G-men to Those Two Guys, playing horseshoes and contemplating stealing the unique cups from the local diner as souveniers. One even lampshades it, saying they've "been here too long."

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