In a 1950's mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer's father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the steam engine scene where the boys are salvaging iron rails from unused rail lines, the Norfolk & Western coal hauling steam locomotive they see is the former Southern Railway engine #4501. This engine is currently in use at the Tennessee Valley Railroad in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The scenes with the locomotive were filmed in upper Tennessee around Harriman, Oliver Springs, and Lake City with engine #4501 pulling a string of coal hopper cars lettered in authentic N&W livery. See more »
In the shot where Homer first steps off the truck after returning from the Science Fair, a camera is clearly visible at the left hand side of the screen. See more »
Why're the jocks the only ones who get to go to college?
They're also the only ones who get the girls.
See more »
The real life people portrayed in the movie are shown during the end credits. See more »
I first saw Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead (2005) a little while back and, since then, I've been watching every one of his movies that arrives on my radar screen. Like Clive Owen, he has an intensity (and he even resembles Owen somewhat) that just oozes from the screen. I feel sure that, if he lands some meaty roles, he'll crack an Oscar one day...
That's not to denigrate this film at all.
It's a fine story, with very believable people (well, it's based upon the author's early shenanigans with rocketry), a great cast Chris Cooper is always good, and Laura Dern is always on my watch list with the appropriate mix of humor, pathos, excitement...and the great sound track with so many rock n roll oldies to get the feet tapping.
But, this film had a very special significance for me: in 1957, I was the same age as Homer Hickham; like him, I looked up at the night stars to watch Sputnik as it scudded across the blackness; like Homer also, I experimented with rocketry in my backyard and used even the exact same chemicals for fuel; and like Homer, I also had most of my attempts end in explosive disaster! What fun it was...
I didn't achieve his great (metaphorical and physical) heights though. But, that's what you find out when you see this movie.
Sure, it's a basic family movie, but that's a dying breed these days, it seems. Take the time to see it, with the kids: you'll all have a lot of good laughs.
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