Space Cowboys (2000): **1/2
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Four old guys go out into space to fix a Russian satellite that only the man who designed its guidance system (Clint Eastwood) can fix. But there's something more to the mission. . .
Space Cowboys was an overall enjoyable movie, for the simple reason that for the most part Clint Eastwood keeps the movie mellow and loose, allowing his four main characters, Frank (Eastwood), Hawk (Jones), Jerry (Sutherland), and Tank (Garner) to just have at it, and they are for the most part a hoot to watch. James Garner's character is the most under-developed. We don't every really get to know what he was like pre-monkey, and his post-monkey persona is just skimmed over. He's a slightly bungling priest. Donald Sutherland, ever reliable, probably fares best. Everything he does he does with such swaggar and display that he is great fun to watch in every frame he's in.
The script, however was not content simply to have enjoyable characters have an adventure; there had to be some sort of dramatic, stakes-raising twist. This disappointed me. I just wanted to see these four characters go out into space and do a mission, and have the things that can actually go wrong on a mission, not an externally-imposed problem. That would have been enough for me, but the first half of the movie is loaded with heavy dialogue between the boss (James Cromwell) and his Russian Military pal that I just knew that something bad was going to go down on the mission. The screenplay also actually repeats several lines of dialogue three or four times, hammering them home when they're not actually needed that much.
Thankfully, Eastwood focuses as little on the story as the screenplay will allow him, and this movie is at its best when the four main characters are just together and being themselves.
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