October Sky

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Joe Johnston

REVIEWED: 03-01-99

Here's a film about teens that doesn't have aliens, a serial killer, or even a prom queen election. (I know, I found it hard to relate to, too.) It tells the true story of Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his high school friends who strive to avert their coal-mining destinies. By experimenting with rocketry, they hope to win a science fair and solicit college scholarships. Most of the adults don't understand their struggle to leave the small town, especially Homer's black-lunged father (Chris Cooper). The maudlin music is obtrusive and the pacing uneven, but the story is generally engaging. It's set in the late 1950s, which in the film and television industries means an excuse to offer the female characters little development beyond cheerleader status. For some balance, follow October Sky by the tasty girl-centered Jawbreaker.


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October Sky
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