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Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 4:00:00 PM
Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 4:09:32 PM
The October Sky
This movie came out more than a decade ago but this is the first time I’ve watched it and although there is nothing remarkably new or fresh about its plot, acting or direction, it still is a great example of how to make a family movie that is inspiring and unsentimental (well almost...)
Based on a true story from the memoirs of one Homer Hickam, from Coalwood, West Virginia in the Appalachians, October Sky is ripe with the traditional elements of filmmaking, and a triumphant one at that.
The backdrop for the film is the space race between America and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the story begins with Americans glued to their radios as they listen to reports of the Soviets successfully launching a rocket into space, thereby gaining a distinct lead in the race with the U.S.
This inspires Homer (Gyllenhaal)’s interest in rockets and he decides to build his own version. Unfortunately, although Homer is a fairly good student, his weaker subjects are maths and science, but encouraged by his teacher Miss Riley (Dern), Homer and a few of his pals start experimenting with building rockets.
He is initially discouraged by his strict father (Cooper) who runs the coal mine that the whole town is built around. His father believes that coal mining is the backbone of the US economy and a job that any American should be proud to undertake.
Homer though believes that his rocket building experiments could be a ticket out of Coalwood and its hazardous coal mines as he intends to participate in the county science fair. Winning it would mean participating in the National Finals where college scholarships await.
While being scoffed at initially, his single-mindedness earnestness eventually wins the small town over as they all get involved in one way or another to help Homer achieve his dream.
You know where the story is heading within the first thirty minutes of the film but you still can’t help being sucked into its heartwarming message and rooting for its protagonist.
Gyllenhaal plays Homer with wide-eyed innocence and wonder and the rest of the supporting cast provide solid support, especially Cooper as Homer’s dad. You would have seen many similar films but not many have been able to pull off an engaging and inspiring story with the same rewards as The October Sky. There is some slightly harsh language occasionally so the film would be more suited to older children and tweens. - Review by S.N.
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