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October Sky (1999)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Family  |  19 February 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 60,249 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 332 user | 106 critic | 23 from Metacritic.com

The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.



(book), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Canerday ...
Scott Thomas ...
Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling ...
Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)


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 <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rocket | coal | sputnik | mining | mine | See All (140) »


Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language, brief teen sensuality and alcohol use, and for some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rocket Boys  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,905,250 (USA) (19 February 1999)


$32,481,825 (USA) (23 July 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Two of the real-life rocket boys, Sherman Siers and Jimmie O'Dell Carroll were combined into one character named Sherman O'Dell. See more »


In real life, both the father and son were named Homer Hickam, however in the film the father's name is changed to John. This was most likely done to avoid confusing viewers by having two characters with the same name. See more »


Roy Lee: Let them have outer space. We got rock 'n' roll.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The real life people portrayed in the movie are shown during the end credits. See more »


References The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) See more »


Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Written by Frankie Lymon, Morris Levy
Performed by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Takes One Back To A Childhood In The '50s
10 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a fine drama and a nice change of pace from today's more hectic and loud films. It is another solid based-on-a-true store, which still means much of it could be made up for dramatic purposes. Frankly, I don't know but I liked the story.

The story is about a young man back in the Fifties who gets interested in rocketry and wants to enter that field instead of working in the coal mines as everyone else, including his father, does in this West Virginia town. The big problem is the conflict it causes between the boy and his father, which I think was overdone. I would like to have a little less tension between the two.

The young man, still a boy, is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, one of his first staring assignments, I think. He's likable, as are his school buddies in here. It's nice to see nice kids in a modern-day film. The two other key actors in the movie are Chris Cooper (the dad) and Laura Dern (the kid's teacher who encourages him all the time.)

The cinematography is decent the 1950s soundtrack is fun to hear. Once again: I wish there more of these kind of films made today.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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