Duller than rocket science and more reliant on formulas, October Sky – an unnaturally earnest ”inspirational” tale which was a small sleeper hit in theaters last spring – re-creates the West Virginia adolescence of former NASA engineer Homer Hickam. We watch Hickam and his pallies, inspired by the Sputnik launch, overcome their town’s parochialism and build a little missile of their own. Director Joe Johnston, who charted a similar trajectory in ”The Rocketeer,” mines a lode of period and genre clichés; Gyllenhaal seems too sophisticated to be an Appalachian youth; Laura Dern doesn’t have much screen time as a nurturing science teacher, but her hair looks terrific.
Gyllenhaal (left) with Dern
Genre: Drama; Starring: Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Jake Gyllenhaal; Director: Joe Johnston; Author: Lewis Colick; Release Date Wide: 02/19/1999; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: Universal
Posted July 27 1999 — 12:00 AM EDT
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