October Sky | Chicago Reader

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Based on the book Rocket Boys by NASA engineer Homer Hickam Jr., this is a moving story about a boy determined to become a rocket scientist instead of a coal miner like his father, the mine superintendent in a dying West Virginia town in 1957. As young Homer (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to earn his father's respect without compromising his dream, the movie manages to push buttons without seeming formulaic. His family and friends include the types that populate the lives of real iconoclasts as surely as they do the stories based on them; one important figure is an intermittently available mentor with problems of her own. Joe Johnston directed a screenplay by Lewis Colick; with Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, William Lee Scott, Chad Lindberg, Natalie Canerday, and Laura Dern.

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