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Movies You Aught Not Watch: Space Cowboys

by on November 3, 2010
 

Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000-2009.

“Space Cowboys”
Rated PG-13
2000

It’s hard for a man whose co-stars once were monkeys to hit a career low beyond that. But Clint Eastwood did it as an actor, director and producer with 2000’s “Space Cowboys.” As insult to injury, his character was, at one point, replaced by a chimp.

Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner play aged Air Force vets who pioneered test flights for the space program but saw their dreams co-opted by NASA.

Problems are evident, and eminent, from the black-and-white flashback prologue in which four young performers speaks with the old actors’ voices. Yes, a man purportedly in peak physical condition sounds like a 70-year-old man who has eaten bags of gravel daily for 30 years.

A damaged telecommunications satellite threatens disaster by falling to Earth, but no one at NASA can work with its archaic circuitry. With no time to train anyone before impact, the quartet steps in … but not before appearing alongside Jay Leno first!

Eastwood exploits his tough-guy image to the point where he simply becomes an asshole about whom no one cares. The only actor faring well here is Jones, who sheds his typical abrasiveness for a more tender side. But just when you think Eastwood wouldn’t possibly end the film putting Jones where he does … well, there you have it.

After “Space Cowboys,” “Unforgiven” no longer was the name of Eastwood’s best film. Until redeeming himself with “Mystic River,” that word best described Eastwood’s cinematic status in a new decade.