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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 38.67%
Average: 9.33%
Pretty Bad: 1.33%
Total Crap: 10.67%

5 reviews, 45 user ratings

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October Sky
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"Outstanding! Inspiration without being canned!"
4 stars

“October Sky” is a special film. It’s the kind of film where you can forget about your problems; there’s no sex, no violence, no big-budget effects –and it’s distributed by Universal Pictures, a big company. Not bad for a cast of virtual unknowns. “October Sky” needs a little extra push because of that, and it deserves it.

Welcome to Coalwood, West Virginia, the name of the town says it all. It’s 1957 and there’s big commotion over Russia’s launch of the spacecraft Sputnik. Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an average teenager in many ways, but not in others. Most high schoolers are expected to become coal miners upon graduation, except those lucky enough to get a sports scholarship. Homer is not athletically inclined, but he knows it’s not in his blood to become a coal miner. Sputnik’s launch ignites an interest in Homer, and he befriends the all-knowledgeable, but totally geeky Quentin (Chris Owen). Homer also recruits his two best friends, Roy Lee (William Lee Scott) and O’Dell (Chad Lindberg).

All might seem nice and peachy, but along comes John Hickam (Chris Cooper), Homer’s father. John takes no interest in his son’s hobbies and only wants him to become a head-honcho at Olga Mining Co., just like himself. However, a strong support comes from their teacher Miss Riley (Laura Dern), who feels that if she doesn’t get the students to go for their dreams, that she isn’t doing her job. Miss Riley pushes for them to enter the science fair.

The four boys go through thick and thin working on all kinds of modifications on their experimental rockets. The town begins to gather more interest, as it proves a relief of the daily pressures and struggles of the time.

Paul Newman had the first outstanding supporting performance of the year in “Message in a Bottle,” and Chris Cooper (“Lone Star”) is right up there with him. Cooper’s performance is done very well, he presents himself in an unlikable way, but you’re still able to connect a sense of empathy with him. Even more so, I doubt there was one single miscast person. Standouts included William Lee Scott (“The Opposite of Sex”), Chris Owen (“She’s All That”), and Natalie Canerday (“Sling Blade”). Also included is a small cameo by O. Winston Link, a famed innovative steam train photographer of the late 1950s. Best of all though, is Jake Gyllenhaal (“City Slickers”) who will hopefully catch the attention of more directors and casting directors. Gyllenhaal has a sincerity he brings to his roles, and it sticks around a lot longer than many of the other Generation Xers.

Adapted from the book written by the real Homer Hickam, Lewis Colick (“Ghosts of Mississippi”) and director Joe Johnston (“The Rocketeer”) have brought us a warm and positive movie, something lacking in many current movies. If we’re lucky, and Academy members don’t all come down with Alzheimer’s, we may see this up for any number of Oscars. Make sure to stay through the credits for some archival video of the real people of this story. Outstanding!

Final Verdict: B+.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/17/00 13:56:37
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell heartwarming uplifting a great film 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. very inspiring :] 4 stars
8/31/08 noops Dill Havarti..... go and find another job.. u r not fit for review writing... 5 stars
4/29/07 Jackospacko Oh yeah! That was fucking good! Suck eggs losers who think it sucks! 5 stars
5/08/06 Thomas Semesky A great film score, good story telling, axcellent acting. An underrated film. 5 stars
2/26/05 brandi like it it taught me always try even though it may not go right the first time 5 stars
11/02/04 j mann sooo baddd i thought julia roberts was going to show up 1 stars
10/11/04 Neilmar baldevia it was just a superb movie it really inspired me they better watch it. 4 stars
10/06/04 Beth awesome movie really i loved it 5 stars
9/16/04 DJ WTFPWNT 5 stars
8/01/04 R.W. Welch Apt account of space age dawn and its impact. Likeable cast. 4 stars
5/20/04 Jessica Bourke Sound wasn't greaat at times but it was still moving and a definate enjoyable watch. 5 stars
1/12/04 Chlo Gyllenhaal I think this movie is terribly underrated - outstanding! 5 stars
3/04/03 Phil M. Aficionado Script was sophomoric (esp early part) but good story and touching 4 stars
8/21/02 I Can't Swim No surprises but dependable, solid moviemaking. Jake is jake 5 stars
1/14/02 Andrew Carden Dern's Performance Is Oscar-Worthy. 5 stars
4/21/01 noah blue William L. Scott deserves more credit for his part as Roy L Cook. 5 stars
4/02/01 William Anders My favorite movie 5 stars
2/24/01 Kathy It was heartwarming and encouraging 5 stars
2/18/01 Amy It touched me 5 stars
1/25/01 jaclyn I love the movie. Seen it about 30 times. 5 stars
7/25/00 Tyler Peterson fuck you david rogers this movie was good. 5 stars
4/28/00 Shawn Burden David Rogers can suck my fucking hairy bean bag. I thought the movie was great!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/01/00 Arnaldo Cruz very moving moving, with an amazing cinematografy,well directed and a fine score 5 stars
3/19/00 David Rogers It had some humor in it, but the rest was just boring. 2 stars
2/22/00 Bozo Of course it was great. If I hated a movie like this I'd question my entire life up to now 5 stars
12/27/99 Malini I've seen this movie 7 times and bought it, i luv it, i luv Jake Gyllenhaal! 5 stars
11/29/99 Mic I expected more from this. A bit too preachy, slammed every point too far. 4 stars
10/01/99 rob Brilliant-this is what movies are supposed to be. 5 stars
9/23/99 GothamDK Really great flick. The fact that it is a true story puts it over the top. 5 stars
9/12/99 Sarah Case An excellent movie for anyone who needs to believe in the power of dreams. Inspirational!!! 5 stars
9/06/99 Weird Andy Affecting. 4 stars
7/27/99 Laz I hope I never become as jaded as your reviewer.This is a wonderful film. High marks indeed 5 stars
5/10/99 GG Too bad more people don't have such AMBITION! 5 stars
4/28/99 Space NUT Proud of our space-fairing heritage. More people should dream like these kids! 5 stars
4/08/99 Brian M great reach for the stars story 4 stars
4/06/99 Annearchy, Damme, Satanne I'd rather saw both my legs off then see this movie again. 1 stars
4/04/99 John Loved It! Best of 99! 5 stars
3/21/99 Daddy Rich A great story. A movie everyone of all ages would enjoy. 5 stars
3/04/99 Mr Showbiz An optimistic, good natured story of improbable success 4 stars
2/26/99 Elizabeth This was pretty good, I enjoyed it myself, Its got a good message. 4 stars
2/24/99 Shad Mallady A nice light - hearted movie, kinda a tear jerker 4 stars
2/21/99 mark h Inspiring true story.Realistic acting.Should win an award. 5 stars
2/20/99 Odie61 Space Camp : The Next Generation 4 stars
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  19-Feb-1999 (PG)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005


  14-Oct-1999 (M)

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