The Right Stuff (1983)

PG   |    |  Adventure, Biography, Drama


The Right Stuff (1983) Poster

The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program.

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7.9/10
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  • Caleb Deschanel and Philip Kaufman in The Right Stuff (1983)
  • Scott Glenn in The Right Stuff (1983)
  • Barbara Hershey and Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff (1983)
  • The Right Stuff (1983)
  • Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff (1983)
  • Dennis Quaid and Scott Paulin in The Right Stuff (1983)

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17 November 2004 | jay4stein79-1
Kaufman's Crowning Achievement
An incredibly under-rated director, Philip Kaufman adapted Tom Wolfe's best-selling tale of the Mercury astronauts in 1983 and, since that time, he has been unable to top himself (he came very very close with Unbearable... and Quills, but The Right Stuff is very much out of their league).

Why? The Right Stuff is a perfect blend of intelligence and wit and action. At just three hours long, it occasionally feels too short. The audience comes to know the characters through terrific performances by Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, and Fred Willard and Kaufman's deft pen (which, no doubt, Wolfe's novel helped guide). We are sad when the story ends; we want more. It's rare that a movie creates such an inviting and intriguing world that, after three hours, we still do not want to leave.

This movie is absolutely one of a kind. Its critical patriotism shows that films can show their love of country without wandering into nationalistic or jingoistic propaganda. It is very rare that a film this indebted to America and American history can be so ambivalent.

That, in my mind, is a positive rather than a negative. The filmmaker and actors understand that the Space Race was not a simple process; they understand that heroes have a dark side.

They all refuse to let the heroism cover the unsavory aspects of a person's life and, simultaneously, they do not let those aspects darken their contribution to mankind.

The Right Stuff is really an amazing filmic experience. It's an expert adaptation, an expert recreation of the early US Space Program, and an expert entertainment. Apollo 13 wanted so very much to be the Right Stuff. It's not; nothing will ever beat the Right Stuff.

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