Space Cowboys (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Space Geezers is a really enjoyable movie. I thought I would hate it, and I was dead wrong.
The main ways the spacecraft had to be accommodated for the Space Geezers
  • Extra-large numbers on the dials
  • Plenty of episodes of Matlock on the on-board VCR
  • Automatic shut-off on left turn signal 
  • Other crew members have to learn to play "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes


the four lead actors (Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and Jim Garner) are seen naked from behind
I guess you know the idea. Four old farts have to go into space to repair a Russian satellite with an antiquated guidance system, which the commie boys stole from the United States way back when. It is absolutely imperative to repair the satellite before its orbit decays, and there isn't time to train the young kids in the old systems, so the coots get to do it.

This is actually two movies. The first half is just straightforward character study and good humor, about the politics and friendships that cause the mission to occur. This part really has some good natured laughs, highlighted by an appearance on Leno (a 10 minute version, complete with monologue, appears on the DVD in the special features). The four old buzzards are four gifted performers who do a great job to create believable characters.

Once they actually get into space, the movie takes a right turn, adds some tension,  and becomes a bit of an adventure story, because it turns out not to be a routine job at all. It turns out that the Russian satellite is not what it was advertised to be, one of the young astronauts that accompanies them fails to follows orders, or maybe he has his own separate orders, and they find themselves in a helluva dangerous mess.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • four special features, with the editor, with the F/x, etc 

  • my favorite was a ten minute appearance on Jay Leno, including Leno's monologue (about a minute of it made it into the film)

Actually, the script sort of falls apart at the end. Who ever heard of an astronaut just ignoring his commander and wandering out of the ship on his own? Get real! Those guys are disciplined, and they beat out about a zillion other guys for that slot just because they are not likely to do anything like that. 

And then the landing has a lot of the "he's the only guy in the world who'd even try" junk that they always seem to come up with, and Tommy Lee's fate was both predictable (he was dying of pancreatic cancer, so you know they introduced that for some reason, presumably a self-sacrifice), and yet outlandish.

But ignore all that. Clint Eastwood directed, and he's really excellent at telling a clear, coherent, no-frills narrative. The story flows nicely, the characters interact in interesting ways, and the film will make you feel good. One thing I like about Clint and Tommy Lee is that they don't make a lot of speeches. They have laconic personalities much like real astronauts, and Eastwood as director just lets the visuals tell the story. The ending of the film has no dialogue at all, and not much music either. 

I guess the storyline may be a bit trite, but there's so much talent applied to the execution that it works. Well done, you old goats!

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Maltin 2.5/4. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 83% positive overall, 77% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9
  • With their dollars ... a hit. $65 million budget, $90 million domestic gross on 2800 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.

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