A few weeks ago I saw an advanced screening of The Astronaut Farmer. It's a weird little movie -- refreshingly not based on a true story -- about Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) and his unusual dream to build a rocket in his barn and launch himself into space. (He's not a complete nutjob; he used to work for NASA, but had to return to the family farm when his father died.)
Charles has the technical knowledge to follow through, but he still encounters resistance: from the bank, the community, and the feds (who view this civilian's actions as a threat). Firmly in his corner, however, is his family, particularly his almost-saintly wife Audrey (Virginia Madsen, who looks amazing).
I'm not used to seeing Thornton play an everyman type, after years of anti-heroes, but he does okay. He provides a little edge to his earnestness, and keeps the film from becoming dull. Similarly, the filmmakers did a marvelous job of depicting a maverick without overloading us with rah-rah patriotism. Even when Charles' story gets international attention, the movie's scope still feels small.
The tagline on the poster says, "If we don't have our dreams, we have nothing." I think they should change it to "If you build it, it should fly." The film aspires to be a fable, like Field of Dreams, but it's probably closer to, say, October Sky.