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October Sky

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: October Sky

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, William Lee Scott
Director: Joe Johnston
Rated: PG
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: February 1999
Genres: Drama, Family

*Also starring: Laura Dern, Chris Owen, Chris Cooper, Chad Lindberg

Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

To a certain extent, Joe Johnston's fact-based film is every bit the piece of manipulation its advertising suggests. In 1957, after seeing the Soviet satellite Sputnik traverse the October sky (we have a title!), young Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a group of fairly nondescript friends (with the exception of ubergeek Quentin, played by Chris Owen) is inspired to take up rocket science. The problem is, he's just a kid in a small West Virginia coal mining town (aptly named Coalwood), and his father (Chris Cooper), who runs the mine, wants nothing more than for Homer to follow the family and town tradition of mining.

Lewis Colick's script goes through familiar paces: Homer runs into a series of obstacles in pursuing his dream, but he keeps at it, egged on by a kindhearted teacher (Laura Dern) and others. But as manipulative as the film is whenever the proceedings threaten to degenerate into treacle, Johnston pulls back; as such, the unforced and honest power of the emotion ever so quietly sneaks up on you by film's end. This understatement and sensitivity extends to the actors, especially Gyllenhaal, one of the rare young newcomers who actually displays some real promise.

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