7.8/10
72,742
351 user 110 critic

October Sky (1999)

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.

Director:

Joe Johnston

Writers:

Homer H. Hickam Jr. (book), Lewis Colick (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
2,492 ( 490)

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Homer Hickam
Chris Cooper ... John Hickam
Laura Dern ... Miss Riley
Chris Owen ... Quentin
William Lee Scott ... Roy Lee
Chad Lindberg ... O'Dell
Natalie Canerday ... Elsie Hickam
Scott Thomas ... Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling Randy Stripling ... Leon Bolden
Chris Ellis ... Principal Turner
Elya Baskin ... Ike Bykovsky
Courtney Cole-Fendley ... Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)
David Dwyer David Dwyer ... Jake Mosby
Terry Loughlin ... Mr. Dantzler
Kaili Hollister ... Valentine Carmina
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rocket Boys See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,905,250, 21 February 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$32,481,825, 25 July 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was released in the United States on February 19, 1999, which was also the 56th birthday of the real-life Homer H. Hickam Jr.. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie when they show the space shuttle launch, the first shot shows a launch stack with a white painted external tank. The second shot shows a later, unpainted rust colored tank. See more »

Quotes

Homer: [Reading the newspaper aloud] "The silvery cylinder burst forth in a fiery column of smoke and flame, racing the very wind as it soared into the sky, a messenger of these Rocket Boys of Big Creek.
[Chuckling]
Homer: These boys use their brains, not brawn, who play not football, but with Apollo's fire."
O'Dell: [Chuckles]
Dorothy Platt: [Walks up to Homer, elated] Hi Homer.
Homer: [Quietly] Hi Dorothy.
Dorothy Platt: Would you please sign my newspaper?
Homer: Sure.
Dorothy Platt: I just know you're going to be really famous someday.
Homer: [Stares at Dorothy, mesmerized]
[...]
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

On Wisconsin
Written by O'dell Willis, William T. Purdy (as W.T. Purdy), Carl D. Beck (as Carl Beck)
Performed by the Central High School Band, Knoxville, Tennessee
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Excellent family movie, and a fine story…
18 March 2007 | by RJBurke1942See all my reviews

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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