A Million Miles Away Parent Guide
This inspirational film highlights the critical role of failure along the path to success.
Parent Movie Review
The child of Mexican migrant workers, José Hernandez (Juan Pablo Monerrubio) has his hands in the soil and his heart in the stars. After watching the Apollo 11 mission, José yearns to become an astronaut. Luckily for José, his elementary school teacher, Ms. Young (Michelle Krusiec), recognizes his intellectual gifts and urges his parents to settle down, instead of repeatedly uprooting their children’s education as they travel from farm to farm.
With a more stable childhood, José (now played by Michael Peña) thrives, graduates from university and lands a job as an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federally funded research institution. He marries the vivacious Adelia (Rosa Salazar) and has five children but can’t forget his dream of going to space. Multiple NASA rejections behind him, Jose sets out to do everything he can to make it to the stars.
Because A Million Miles Away is an inspirational biopic, viewers know that it will end well, as José achieves his dream and makes his family and community proud. The real surprise here – and what makes this film valuable - is the amount of failure and pain José and his family encounter along the way. As José begins his engineering career, he must deal with casual racism and a constant discounting of his abilities. He keeps upgrading his skills but encounters almost a dozen rejections from NASA before he’s finally accepted for astronaut training – and he still flounders during the training course. José’s experience is a valuable example of the part failure plays on the road to success and parents will appreciate José’s role as a poster child for resilience, persistence, and unremitting hard work.
Awash in positive messages, this movie also highlights the critical role of family and community support. The familiar saying “It takes a village to raise a child” can be adapted to fit José’s reality: “It takes a village to raise an astronaut”. His success is built on the devotion of his parents, the unfailing support of his wife (who delays her dreams to support his), and the unwitting sacrifices of his children, who give up time with their father so he can train. (He even misses the birth of one child, an almost incomprehensible loss to me.) Despite his setbacks, José is able to keep trying because he has such a tightly woven support structure catching him when he falls.
Not only is the movie full of positive messages, it’s almost devoid of negative content. There are a few scenes of social drinking, a smattering of minor profanities, and some tragic deaths that occur off screen. It’s a relief that a film full of family-friendly messaging isn’t rendered unsuitable by sexual innuendo or profanity. Whether you’re looking for a movie about overcoming adversity, or combating prejudice, or appreciating families, or reaching for a dream, this is a great choice. Even if you just want something to inspire your kids, turn on A Million Miles Away, pop the popcorn, and settle down on the couch together. You won’t regret it.
Directed by Alejandra Marquez Abella. Starring Michael Pena, Rosa Salazar, Julio Cesar Cedillo. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release September 15, 2023. Updated September 12, 2023
Watch the trailer for A Million Miles Away
A Million Miles Away
Rating & Content Info
Why is A Million Miles Away rated PG? A Million Miles Away is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements and language
Violence: There’s mention of a secondary character’s shooting death. The Space Shuttle Columbia explodes off screen and a secondary character dies.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: There are a few terms of deity and a minor curse word.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink beer. Adults drink beer and shots at a wedding.
Page last updated September 12, 2023
A Million Miles Away Parents' Guide
Why does José want to be an astronaut? What obstacles does he have to overcome? What new skills does he develop in order to reach his dream? How does his goal affect his wife and children? How do they contribute to his eventual success?
Do you have a dream for your future? What skills are required for that goal? Do you have a plan for achieving that dream?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
José Hernandez tells his own story in two books: Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut and From Farmworker to Astronaut: My Path to the Stars. Both books are available in English and Spanish.
Related home video titles:
October Sky tells the true story of teenagers in a West Virginia mining town who want to build their own rocket. Despite the opposition of their parents, and with the encouragement of their science teacher, the boys persist, with unexpected results.
Previously unseen contemporary footage of the Apollo 11 mission (which inspired José Hernandez) can be seen in the documentary Apollo 11.
Astronaut is the fictional story of a senior citizen who enters a lottery to become a civilian passenger in a spaceship. Richard Dreyfuss stars in this thoughtful film.
For another true story about a successful Hispanic American, you can watch Flamin’ Hot, the tale of the Frito Lay employee who inspired the spicy snack.