Space Cowboys

"OK"

Space Cowboys Review


The good news about Space Cowboys is that Clint Eastwood proves to be a skilled comedic director. The bad news is that only the first half of the movie is a comedy - the second half is a sloppy attempt at a heart-pounding, Apollo 13ish, mission-gone-haywire space drama that's vague, oversimplified and unbelievable. There's a gem of an entertaining movie somewhere in there, but it's never fully realized.

The plot is solid high concept. If you did a double-take when you first heard that John Glenn would return to space, you'll love the basic premise of Ken Kaufman's and Howard Klausner's script - four daring, old Air Force codgers weasel their way back into NASA's space shuttle program to attempt an equipment repair mission that only they know how to perform. Our movie visions of strapping, young astronauts (Dennis Quaid, Bill Paxton, Ben Affleck, to name a few) are smashed once we see an aging James Garner pull on an airtight suit.

The man behind the idea is Eastwood's Frank Corvin, a brilliant Top Gun style troublemaker from the '50s who's bitter about his exclusion during NASA's inception. Once he pushes his unlikely proposal through the space program, Corvin travels the South collecting his old flyboy buddies - Tommy Lee Jones as the hard-headed Hawk, a widower who takes unsuspecting thrill seekers on wild flights; Donald Sutherland as smooth ladies' man Jerry, a roller coaster engineer completely unfazed by negative Gs; and Garner as the humble Tank, an old navigator turned pastor. Meeting each of these guys in their natural habitat is a real comedic treat, as Corvin's first mission of convincing them all to join is a fun combination of Armageddon and The Blues Brothers. And these four actors are seasoned to the point of marinade, so they've got no trouble digging in and getting the laughs.

When the movie stays light, dealing broad laughs and poking fun at maturity and ageism, it's easy to suspend disbelief. At times, when the movie jumps ahead without much substance, or the characters seem a bit too cookie-cutter, it's still passable and enjoyable. But when the quartet finally jump on the space shuttle, Space Cowboys dive bombs, becoming just a tepid drama.

From that point, Eastwood shoots for wide-eyed amazement from the audience (hell, we've seen space walks since Kubrick did it more than 30 years ago), and all the forgivable weaknesses become glaring. The well-timed laughs of the first half become childish, predictable dialogue. William Devane, as a funny, wise-ass, gum-smacking flight director, turns into a cheap imitation of Ed Harris' Apollo 13 character, bellowing lines into space like "Attaboy Frank!" Cut to worried, underdeveloped wife character. Cut back to grimacing, troubled Eastwood. Oh boy.

There's no denying, though, that it is a roar seeing these guys get sent through the ringer at NASA. And it is refreshing to see a movie who's youngest lead actor is 54. But aside from the consistent laughs, there's a lot missing. There's a chance to see these men contemplate the paths of their interesting lives. There's the opportunity to learn more about the families behind them. And there's even more that could've been done about respect of an older generation, and the fact that mistakes and lessons can be learned at any age. Instead, it's all generally ignored as Space Cowboys opts for an easier, less demanding path.

The brutal truth is that this movie was over for me once these guys hit space. The characters lose their energetic charm and begin to pale. The plot becomes wildly unbelievable but asks to be taken seriously. The longer the movie progressed, the lower my admiration. There's a better Space Cowboys than this two-part, 129-minute version - one where an entire 90-minute film is just about four funny, respected men reliving their former glory, blasting off to space in the finale, riding into the sunset and out of sight.

Yee haw!



Space Cowboys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th August 2000

Box Office USA: $89.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $90M

Budget: $65M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Clipsal Films, Mad Chance, Malpaso Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 92 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Frank Corvin, as Hawk Hawkins, as Jerry O`Neill, as Tank Sullivan, as Bob Gerson, as Sara Holland, as Eugene Davis, as Ethan Glance, Courtney B. Vance as Roger Hines, Barbara Babcock as Barbara Corvin, as General Vostov, as Dr. Anne Caruthers, as Capcom

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.