Billy Bob Thornton
Tim Blake Nelson
Director Michael Polish (having worked with his co-writing brother on only indie films before now) has a true eye for the bizarre, with many of the visuals packing a wallop in how out of place they appear. The first minute of the film alone features Billy Bob Thorton riding a horse in the desert while wearing a space suit. Things like this add some artistic value to a production that's otherwise fairly straightforward and formulaic.
If there's one thing I loved about this film, it was seeing Billy Bob Thorton actually acting again. When was the last time this guy played something other than a washed-up alcoholic asshole? His character here isn't the deepest of individuals, but Thorton certainly helps make him much more likable than he should've been (due to the undeniably self-centered nature of the determined space enthusiast).
The main problem with THE ASTRONAUT FARMER is that it succeeds more at not being bad than it does at being really good. The directing, acting, and writing are all up to par, but there hardly seems to be an attempt to strive for more than that. When it comes right down to it though, I'd much rather have a film that's perfectly satisfactory than one that shoots for the stars and crashes under its own weight.
How to Build a Rocket: The Making of The Astronaut Farmer (28:21): Some basic interview sound bites and a lot of praise geared towards Billy Bob Thorton and director Michael Polish. There's some quality information to be found here, but you have to search to find it.
A Conversation with NASA Astronaut Dave Scott (2:44): A very brief interview with experience astronaut Dave Scott, confirming who those who couldn't tell on their own just how ridiculous the science behind the film's premise is.
Bloopers and Outtakes (8:43): A lengthy set of on-set gags and actors joking around/messing up lines/etc. The best bit here is when Thorton goes back to his SLING BLADE days and goofs about in Karl Childers mode.