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October Sky

Jake Gyllenhaal , Chris Cooper , Joe Johnston    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 9.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

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Based on the memoir Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam Jr., October Sky emerged as one of the most delightful sleepers of 1999--a small miracle of good ol' fashioned movie-making in the cynical, often numbingly trendy Hollywood of the late 20th century. Hickam's true story begins in 1957 with Russia's historic launch of the Sputnik satellite, and while Homer (played with smart idealism by Jake Gyllenhaal) sees Sputnik as his cue to pursue a fascination with rocketry, his father (Chris Cooper) epitomizes the admirable yet sternly stubborn working-man's ethic of the West Virginia coal miner, casting fear and disdain on Homer's pursuit of science while urging his "errant" son to carry on the family business--a spirit-killing profession that Homer has no intention of joining.

As directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer), this wonderful movie is occasionally guilty of overstating its case and sacrificing subtlety for predictable melodrama. But more often the film's tone is just right, and the spirit of adventure and invention is infectiously conveyed through Gyllenhaal and his well-cast fellow rocketeers, whose many failures gradually lead to triumph on their makeshift backwoods launching pad. Capturing time and place with impeccable detail and superbly developed characters (including Laura Dern as an inspiring schoolteacher), October Sky is a family film for the ages, encouraging the highest potential of the human spirit while giving viewers a clear view of a bygone era when "the final frontier" beckoned to the explorer in all of us. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Coalwood, West Virginia, 1957. Working in the coal mines is an inescapable way of life in this small town. When high schooler Homer Hickam, Jr. (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees the Sputnik satellite in the night sky, he dares to break free of the mines and reach for the stars. With the support of his teacher (Laura Dern) and three friends, Homer sets out on an inspiring quest to build his own rocket. Overcoming a poor education, a tough father (Chris Cooper) and a series of misfires, Homer turns his dreams into reality in this incredible true story of hope, determination and triumph. "You'll laugh with it, cry with it, and go away absolutely loving it," says Robert Butler (Knight Ridder News Service) of the critically acclaimed October Sky. This special edition dvd includes: *Aiming High: The Story of the Rocket Boys, starring the real Rocket Boys.
*Feature Commentary with Homer Hickam
*Spotlight on Location
*Production Notes
*Theatrical Trailer

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, but a treat nevertheless March 30 2000
Format:DVD
Having read Homer H. Hickam's wonderful memoir, 'Rocket Boys', upon which October Sky is based, I decided to buy the DVD blind as the film did not recieve a national theatrical release in the UK, my home. I must say I rather enjoyed it. Joe Johnston has made a warm, evocative film but one feels he failed to make the most of his source material. Lewis Colick's script seems to skip over or marginalise the very elements that made 'Rocket Boys' such a gripping, moving read. However, the cast is very charming, there's plenty of laughs and smiles to be had, and it's a hard heart that isn't moved at the film's end. It's no Stand By Me, but October Sky is a great film. As for the disc: picture is superb, sound a little ropey (it's hard to make out what the characters are saying sometimes), and given that the film is based on a true story, the bonus material would have greatly benefited from a documentary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational top to bottom July 19 2004
Format:DVD
This movie is insanely inspirational. If you buy any positive movie for your collection, think about this one. It tells the story of Homer Hickam and the Rocket boys. Just after the USSR launched Sputnik (the first manmade satellite), the US had to play catch-up.
At this time is when a kid (Homer) decides to build a Rocket. The movie is the quest to build a working rocket and get the hell out of the little coal mining community he is stuck in. He has dreams to get to college and work for NASA.
Will he accomplish his dreams??? Hells yea! After he makes it through two science fairs and his father. This is one of those rare movies that will make you a better person for having seen it. Do yourself the favor and get this movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars whiz bang! May 4 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Homer Hickam is a ordinary coalminer teen.His dad is head of the mine and he raises hell a lot.Homer has a tough time getting close.His biggest sore point is that he detests the mine.He doesn't want to end up under the earth forever.He trys football.Thats the only way any of his friends have gone to collage.He fails in that.He wishes a girl would notice him.He does have two loyal friends.Then everything changes with Sputnik.Seeing it flying over the stars above his head is the moment when he realizes his calling.Soon he starts thinking about rockets.Why not build one? He goes to the poor nerdy boy for help.Soon the four have become allies.Homers first attempt in the science of rockets goes flat(well,the fence goes flat).His dad is angry and tells him to quit this craze.Homer won't do it,so he goes off in the woods and starts testing rockets.Some go nutty,some explode.Nothing works.Finally,when the whole town is there to watch,it happens.The rocket soars high.His teacher tells him to enter his rocket designs in the science fair.It seems like sucess is at hand when Homer's dad gets hurt.Homer must go down in the mine and work to support the family.His dream is shattered.
Does Homer Hickum get a scolarship with his rocket? Watch and see.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Cast Uplifts Inspiring True Story Nov. 11 2003
By T Berry
Format:VHS Tape
Chris Cooper...Laura Dern...Jake Gyllenhaal...Three of the best talents in the world in one film!
No one could ask for a more inspiring story, especially for the youths of the world. Four kids up against authority to achieve higher learning and actually succeed despite the setbacks they face.
Jake Gyllenhaal was perfectly cast as the smart, earnest young Homer Hickam who has to fight his own father and high school principal to follow his dreams of working for NASA. He and his friends know they have the odds stacked against them, yet they work their butts off overcoming many obstacles along the way simply to avhieve a common goal - getting a better education and getting out of dead-end Coalwood.
Dad John Hickam, portrayed by the always awesome Chris Cooper, is unfortunately underutilized, as he always seems to be. Make no doubt, he plays his part well, but after reading the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr, you know that there is much more to the relationship between father and son that is not even touched upon in the movie. John Hickam was not the seemingly cold man he was portrayed to be, but I guess that's what makes for good drama.
Laura Dern is also underutilized but is a character that helps to bouy everybody's spirits with the absolute faith she holds in the boys and their goal.
The rest of the cast provides above-adequate support, especially the friends of Homer with their humor and even the in-group squabbling that is inevitable in a group of boys of that age.
Joe Johnston does a good job capturing the conflict Homer has of whether to follow his heart or his father's wishes for him. The astmosphere of the dreary coal mining town was also captured perfectly by the art director and set decorator.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By C. Owen
Format:VHS Tape
While I do not see too many films when they are released in theaters, I raced out to catch this one because it seemed to carry such an inspiring message. I'll never forget the mamazing feeling in my heart when I left the movie theater that evening. I could not help but stare up into the sky, feeling like I could reach out and grab the stars.
Jake Gyllenhaal perfectly captures the essence of Homer Hickam. While the movie is heavy on melodrama, its perfectly necessary to get the message across. The life that was laid in front of Homer when he was born was not a pleasant one. He was going to work in the mines. His father knew, as did the whole town. But Homer doesn't accept this and his mother and teacher make sure that he does not quit.
Chris Cooper is unbelievable. I had not seen his previous work and had no idea who he was. After October Sky I pledged to never miss one of his films, and have yet to be disappointed.
The directing is a littleover-the-top and the screenplay had to do a lot of strecthing to make the movie accessible, but these changes do not detract from the story, they enhance it. Two scenes capture how this works. The "Rocket Boys" have been struggling with their propellant for a long time and can't get it right. Finally, they chance upon a solution that might work and when they got to test it, the entire high school and half the town is there to watch. Horrified at the prospect of screwing up in front of the entire town, Homer realizes he has no choice; he can't back down now. When the fuse is lit and the rocket soars perfectly into the sky, you heart swells with pride for what these boys accomplished.
And the final scene between Homer and his father still chokes me up as I think about it now.
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