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Critics apparently were won over by the charming old coots -- Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner -- starring in Space Cowboys, even if many of them do have reservations about the story's credibility. Robert Denerstein writes for the Scripps Howard News Service: "Space Cowboys is a valentine to a generation of actors grown long in the tooth; and if the movie makes one too many jokes about age, I'm inclined to forgive it." Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal comments that "notwithstanding the script's sporadic drift or the leisurely pace of Mr. Eastwood's direction ... four intensely likable heroes add up to some of the rightest stuff around." Mike Clark in USA Today comes up with the same conclusion: "You have to take the whole movie on faith: Nothing in it is remotely possible or realistic. ... The joy of Space Cowboys is in spending quality time with some favorite old actors who obviously enjoy working together." Elvis Mitchell in the New York Times concludes that the four actors "mount a vigorous and funny defense of maturity -- the last thing you might expect from a summer action picture, and one of the reasons Space Cowboys is one of the best entertainments this season has yet offered." But Rita Kempley in the Washington Post calls the movie, "an implausible action adventure with the most geriatric payload since a community of retirees lifted off in Cocoon." And Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail figures that the movie adds up to no more than "a few laughs and zero suspense -- a bit like spending a night watching the U.S. Republican National Convention."

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