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October Sky


Latest Home Video

Jan 25, 2001

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Joe Johnston


Jake Gyllenhaal

Chris Cooper


1999 Universal Studios

Still shot from the movie: October Sky.

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Reviewed by

Overall A-
Run Time108

Making the Grades

It's 1957 in Coalwood, West Virginia, and all roads point to the local coal mine. Even the high school principal puts more of a priority on picking coal than on getting education. But when the first spacecraft, the Russian Sputnik, flies over Coalwood, high-school student Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) catches a glimpse of the bigger world and can no longer accept his presumed future.

Down In The Delta - Official Site The only known road out of Coalwood is a football scholarship. Homer doesn't qualify for that. Instead, he chooses a new path that follows his passion: rocket building. Because this ambitious effort will require some skill in welding, science, and math, he enlists (with a lot of persuasion) the help of his friends, the mine's machinist and an unpopular student who is a math-whiz.

October Sky - Official Site The townspeople think Homer is crazy, but the greatest opposition comes from his father (Chris Cooper), a supervisor and lifetime employee at the mine. His Dad was already upset with the time and money being spent on building rockets, but when Homer and his friends are accused of setting a forest fire, his father explodes. Despite the opposition, the dream won't die. With all the determination of a football wannabe, Homer tackles each new obstacle using teamwork and extra-curricular academic training.

Unfortunately, there are concerns for parents in this film. Some scenes of family disputes contain moderate profanities and may be too intense for younger children. Parents may find another reason to squirm during a needless scene when the boys make some sexual remarks about how to feel a girl's breast during a movie.

But for me, this true story contains good lessons that fly far above the bad. Through persistent effort, these boys show how incredible goals can be reached. Even more noteworthy, this rare film celebrates intellectual effort as opposed to physical. Along the way, Homer and his father discover they share a dedication to hard work. Eventually they learn to respect each other's achievements. The true story on which October Sky is based, provides great motivation to shoot for your dreams.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about October Sky.

This true story has a happy ending, with Homer Hickam achieving his dream. Would his efforts still have been worthwhile had he not reached this ultimate goal? Are you ever discouraged from trying new things because you might not realize your ultimate dream? What things still worth the risk?

Having just retired in 1998 after over 20 years of service to NASA, Homer Hickam is a real rocket scientist. For more information, check or look for the book Rocket Boys, the autobiography upon which the film is based.

Canadian Movie Ratings

Not Rated
AB Not Rated
MB Not Rated -----
ON Not Rated
QC Not Rated
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: 14A

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of October Sky...

October Sky Special Edition DVD; released January 25, 2005.

I can’t help but feel inspired each time I watch October Sky. Celebrating the advantages of getting an education and pursuing your dreams, this true story just gets better with the release of the 2005 Special Edition. Featuring a short documentary titled, Aiming High: The Story of the Rocket Boys, fans have a chance to meet the real Homer Hickman and some of the other Rocket Boys as they reminisce about their life and the movie. Also included is an interview with the principal who wasn’t always supportive of the young men’s efforts. I was really impressed by the respect the grown Homer shows for the aging administrator - proving all things can be forgiven when put in their proper perspective.

Another bonus is Homer’s running commentary of the movie. As he describes each scene, he explains which elements are true and which are just story telling. I was amazed at how many of the dramatic elements really did happen. As he humbly explains his gratitude for his family, friends, and small town heritage, I developed an even deeper appreciation for this man’s accomplishments.

Spot Light on Location, Production Notes, and a Theatrical Trailer, round out the offerings of this DVD that provides English, French and Spanish audio in 5.1 Dolby Surround, as well as Spanish and French subtitles and English captions.

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