There’s no denying that Richard Dreyfuss is a talented actor, and he’s got the Oscar to prove it. Lately, though, it seems those talents have been squandered in a series of nondescript films with little box office potential. Maybe it’s just his age — at 71, there probably aren’t a lot of plum roles available for him anymore, but he clearly loves his work. And while his passion for acting often elevates his performances above the material he’s given, that won’t be enough to lift Astronaut out of a low orbit.
The film starts out feeling awfully reminiscent of Willy Wonka and theChocolate Factory, except this movie’s golden ticket is a seat aboard the first commercial space flight and it’s the young boy pushing his old, ailing grandfather to enter, instead of the other way around. Along the way, though, the film pivots into something resembling Rain Man, as Dreyfuss’s character, Angus, becomes overly fixated on a geological anomaly that could doom the mission. Ultimately, it feels like a bait-and-switch move: The movie we wind up with is not the one we think we’re getting during the first reel.
Not helping matters is the script from Shelagh McLeod, a veteran actress making her feature film debut as a writer and director. Angus is the only character in the film who’s fully fleshed out; the others feel like one-dimensional stereotypes in service of Angus’s story. You’ve got the unconditionally supportive grandson, the overly worried daughter, the sternly disapproving son-in-law, and the rich entrepreneur who will stop at nothing in the race to become the first commercial player in space.
It’s a shame, really, because Angus is a compelling character. He’s a 75-year-old widower, and one of his greatest disappointments in life came when NASA denied his bid to become a mission specialist in the Space Shuttle program. So when Marcus (Colm Feore), the rich entrepreneur, sponsors an online contest for the last seat aboard his first space flight, Angus defies the rules and lies about his age to enter the contest. He’s a character defined by his obsessions — getting into space, holding on to the last vestiges of his wife’s life, and his life’s work, geology.
That final obsession propels the last half of the movie, as Angus becomes more and more focused on convincing Marcus and his associates that his maiden space voyage is a disaster waiting to happen. But the constant rock talk gets a little tiresome and tends to drag the film down. Angus’s journey ends in a way that is predictably telegraphed by the film, but still carries some emotional resonance. Not enough, though, to overcome the script’s deficiencies.
Ultimately, while this Astronaut wants to soar skyward, it doesn’t quite have the right equipment to get it into the stratosphere.
There’s mothing like a little bit of fresh air to clear the mind. It seems to be working for Gordon Ramsay. His new show, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, is taking him on all sorts of adventures in the great outdoors, and some have been pretty wild. But if you watch the show, even in those unpredictable (and sometimes scary) situations, you’re going to see a kinder, gentler Ramsay, one who isn’t cursing up a storm all the time. So why are we hearing fewer “bleeps” on Uncharted? Ramsay offered us his theory. (Click on the media bar below to hear Gordon Ramsay)
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted airs Sundays at 10/9c on Nat Geo.
Though they haven’t always gotten the best reviews, the first two Fallen movies — 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and 2016’s London Has Fallen — were both solid performers at the box office. Following the three-year cycle once again, Gerard Butler is back as Secret Service agent Mike Banning in a new sequel, Angel Has Fallen. Butler told us he’s always been up for the idea of another sequel, but wanted to make sure the premise was original enough to keep the fans interested. (Click on the media bar below to hear Gerard Butler)
People who watch This Is Us know one basic truth about the show: Jack Pearson is the kind of father everyone would like to have. He may be flawed, but he’s loving, caring, and always taking an interest in his kids. It’s a dream role for Milo Ventimiglia. But while the character is fully fleshed out in the show’s scripts, Ventimiglia says he brings a little something extra to the role — the lessons learned from his own father. (Click on the media bar below to hear Milo Ventimiglia)
This Is Us will air its fourth season premiere Tuesday, September 24 on NBC.
Considering that producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg both rose through the ranks as proteges of Judd Apatow, it’s not surprising to see they’re two of the driving forces behind the raunchy new pre-teen comedy Good Boys. When we spoke to Rogen and Goldberg, they told us why they became such big fans of the concept. (Click on the media bar below to hear Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)
It seems that treacherous women are always on Marc Cherry’s mind. If you look at the shows he’s created, a pattern develops — Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, and now Why Women Kill. Why does Cherry have such an affinity for writing odd female characters? When we asked, he said it came from a somewhat surprising source. (Click on the media bar below to hear Marc Cherry)
Why Women Kill is streaming now on CBS All Access.