Monday, January 11, 2010

Movies of 1999 - October Sky

I'm back with another 1999 theatrical release - this time the Jake Gyllenhaal vehicle October Sky.

The movie is based around the real-life "Rocket Boys" of the 1950s (in the sleepy town of Coalwood, West Virginia) who answered the launch of Russia's Sputnik with the ambitious endeavor to create and launch their own amateur rocket. The main protagonist is Homer Hickham, a teenager that's not cut out for football, yet still wants a scholarship to avoid the grim fate of his coal-mining father. Against great odds and adversity, both from within and amongst family and community, these 4 "amateur rocket scientists" strive for a future beyond the dying mining town, putting their skill (and their friendship) to the test by entering in the National Science Fair Competition in Indianapolis. The movie teaches heavily on the values of perseverance, of loyalty, and on holding onto one's dreams.

One of the things I love about watching new movies is becoming re-acquainted with actors/actresses I've seen in other films. For example, Laura Dern of Jurassic Park fame plays the supportive teacher Miss Riley, and (quite a shock, since I've only ever seen this dude in Major Payne) Chris Owen plays Quentin, the nerdy science geek that helps the boys construct and refine their rockets.

Since this movie literally deals with rocket science, there's a lot of talk about physics and the hard mathematics, Calculus and trigonometry. While neither of these subjects are my cup of tea (I'm retarded when it comes to Physics), the story and characters are endearing enough that you want to see how things turn out in the end.

The movie does follow your predictable textbook linearity in melodrama. Sure, there are a few unexpected twists and turns along the way (occasionally peppered with some rather half-baked romantic interests, quirky one-liners, and sappy grand speeches), but for the most part this film doesn't do anything innovative.

Still, I recommend the movie because it is short, sweet, and leaves a nice little feeling in the pit of your stomach that will take you to infinity and beyond.

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