There is an old saying that relates to the rousing new film by Joe Johnston that goes something like this: "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right." That is a highly presumptuous statement referring to self motivating and belief in an individual, which, in this movie, stand true even after road blocks and family trouble stand in the way.
"October Sky" is about a young man who believes in himself named Homer Hickam, growing up in a strict, traditional family in the 1950's. Homer loves in a small coal mining town where nearly every man grows up to be a miner. All of his friends, Quentin, Roy, and O'Dell all think that their life after high school will be like everyone else's. Homer is not exited about that future.
One night, while everyone stares at the sky, a Russian space craft called Sputnik passes overhead. This is something new for Homer, and he finds it spectacular and overwhelming. From this point on, his look at life will never be the same.
First, he tells everyone that he wants to work in the rocket scientist area for an occupation. Flabbergasted at what he says, his family passes that idea over their heads and continues with life as usual His friends, however, think that this idea may have some potential. After all, Quentin is a very smart individual when it comes to this kind of thing.
When the four friends start to test model rockets, and blow a white picket fence to smithereens, then what seems to be a forest fire is scared by them, they're forced to end their progresses.
The performances in this movie are absolutely riveting from start to finish. All of the actors give performances as if this is the real mumbo jumbo here. Standing out in all of the glory: Laura Dern as Miss Riley. This very well may be Academy award material if the judges can remember back to the beginning of the year when this film is released.
The characters are also extremely well developed. Not only to the filmmakers give clear, apparent reason why Homer is interested in the subject, but they also explain to the audience how they are succeeding in their studding of rocketry. We clearly understand all of the characters' motives and beliefs, especially the father, who is bent over on everlasting tradition.
The film, unfortunately, loses some of its momentum at mid-point because of a silly, recycled romantic sub-plot involving Homer's love interest and how his brother stole her from him. This type of this is becoming so awfully common in high-school movies, not that this film is aimed at high-schoolers. The actors stare at each other mindlessly, like the are in a trance. I put up with it without complaining in 1997's "Inventing the Abbots," but I have had just about enough this.
But that is just a minor complaint. With an authentic looking time period, cinematography worth an Oscar and clips of the real life Homer and friends at the end, whom all hit it big with their dreams, especially Homer, this is the first great film of 1999.
45 out of 57 found this helpful