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Space Cowboys movie review

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Space Cowboys

Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner play a group of test pilots left on the ground while the Mercury and Apollo astronauts got into space.

Fortune smiles on them when a Russian satellite is falling from orbit and only Frank Corvin (Eastwood) can fix it. Somehow the Russian craft has his Skylab guidance system. Corvin insists that old nemesis, and now NASA executive Bob Gearson (James Cromwell) allow his team (Daedalus) to take the shuttle on its rescue trip.

Movie still, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, Clint Eastwood And Donald Sutherland in Warner Bros. Pictures' high tech adventure, Space Cowboys., Festivale film review
Movie still, (l to r) James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, Clint Eastwood And Donald Sutherland in Space Cowboys
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The genre term Space Opera for a particular kind of rootin' tootin' boys own science fiction space adventure is a hats off to its similarity to the Horse Opera cowboy stories. So it isn't all that surprising to find Clint Eastwood directing and acting in Space Cowboys -- a prime example of the genre.

In keeping with the tradition of space operas, the plot line is simple replete with obvious heroes and villains, high adventure and noble self-sacrifice.

Shades of John Glenn here we have a group of yesterday's adventure hero actors playing a group of yesterday's heroes -- test pilots with The Right Stuff. On one hand it's a nice change to be free from today's Ken-doll heroes with their unbelievable plastic torsos, on the other it's testosterone past use-by date, and wrinkles and leathery skin as far as the eye can see.

TOMMY LEE JONES and MARCIA GAY HARDEN in Warner Bros. Pictures' high tech adventure, Space Cowboys.

Space Cowboys doesn't just stop at having throwback astronauts, it also has throwback casting. All the female casting is love-interest girlie parts. Their jobs might be responsible and high-tech, but their human value and importance is low. Marcia Gay Harden stars as NASA Mission Director Sara Holland, the woman coordinating the flight to repair the Ikon satellite. She is the love interest for Hawk, Tommy Lee Jones' love interest, and has the most to do.

Films that the filmmakers enjoy making usually have that joy shining through. Speaking about Eastwood as a director, Tommy Lee Jones says, "Clint enjoys cinema and is determined to enjoy it, so everybody has a good time making his movies. And of course, the company I'm in, the actors, are all great fun. The uniqueness, the pleasure of this company extends certainly to the camera crew and the grips and costume people and everyone else working on this production."

Filmed with the full cooperation of NASA, with segments produced both at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, and the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, FL
Ultimately this film doesn't bring anything new to the screen, it is just a plain old space opera -- but then that's the whole point: old Space Cowboys can still dream of not fading away.


For another movie about men looking back to their lost youth, see The Replacements

Send your comments or review by Ali Kayn
Due for Australian release September, 2000
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Space Cowboys (2000)
Written by: Ken Kaufman, Howard Klausner
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Produced by: Andrew Lazar, Tom Rooker
Edited by: Joel Cox
Director of Photography: Jack N. Green
running time: 130
rating: PG

The Players: Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner, James Cromwell, William Devane, Loren Dean, Marcia Gay, Courtney B. Vance
Official website: www.spacecowboys.net
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Filed: 1-Aug-2000 : Last updated: 10-Oct-2000 : Last tested: 8-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 08-Aug-2014
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