Reviewed by: Peter Wright
Occasionally, a movie comes along that blows me away. Whether it’s the story, the acting, or the scenery, I can’t get over how good the movie is or how good I feel when leaving the theater. That’s how I felt when I saw “October Sky”.
“October Sky”, released by Universal Pictures, is the true story that focuses on the lives of four young men seeking a way out of smalltown USA and the lives they are destined to lead if they do nothing to change it. Seventeen-year-old Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) watches the Soviet satellite Sputnik fly over his hometown and becomes fascinated with rockets. Aided by his two friends and the school “nerd”, Homer begins experimenting with rockets with the idea of entering into the national science fair after his teacher Miss Riley (Laura Dern) informs them that the winners might have a chance of college scholarships. With college scholarships, they would have in their grasp the opportunity to leave their small coal-mining town.
The more excited Homer gets about their rockets, the less support he seems to get from his father. Homer isn’t a football jock like his brother Jim, and, according to his father, is destined to live the life his father lives: staying in their small town working at the coal mine. But Homer knows that coal mining isn’t his life and sets out, determined to prove that he and his friends can win that science fair. Standing behind him is Miss Riley, who sees the potential in the Rocket Boys and knows that they have what it takes to make their dreams come true.
An interesting thing to look for from a Christian perspective is the scene at the Hickam dinner table. As the scene begins, Homer’s father is finishing grace.
There are, unfortunately, some elements of profanity throughout the film, including some instances of the Lord’s name in vain. There is one scene where Homer sits with a girl in a parked car. Both appear nervous and it is hinted that something might happen, but fortunately they are interupted before anything happens.
The boys “play with matches” quite a bit in the film and you see a lot of exploding rockets. Concerned parents might want to warn their children “not to do that at home.” There are a couple of scenes that involve accidents in the mine and might be visually upsetting to young children. There is also a scene in which one of Homer’s friends is beaten by his stepfather. Homer’s father steps in and threatens the man. Also, Homer and his friends resort to stealing in order to fund their hobby and there is one short scene in which Homer and his friends appear drunk while stealing a bottle of alcohol.
The only really objectionable theme that runs throughout much of the movie is Homer’s struggle with his father. Parents might feel that Homer is too rebellious and blatantly disobeys his father. It may seem that their struggle is obviously skewed in Homer’s favor: Homer is right and Dad is wrong. I don’t, however, think this was the writer’s intention. Homer’s father obviously wants what is best for his son. It is through this struggle that a lot of the growth is shown between both Homer and his father throughout the movie.
“October Sky” looks like it might be one of those quiet movies that comes in but never really makes it big, but I hope that I am wrong. As I mentioned earlier, I had a really good feeling coming out of this movie and I don’t think I was the only one: a number of people clapped as the credits began to role which I don’t encounter often at movies. I hope “October Sky” does well because it will encourage Hollywood to make more movies like it.