7.8/10
76,683
359 user 116 critic

October Sky (1999)

The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.

Director:

Joe Johnston

Writers:

Homer H. Hickam Jr. (book), Lewis Colick (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
2,323 ( 562)
4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Homer Hickam
Chris Cooper ... John Hickam
Laura Dern ... Miss Riley
Chris Owen ... Quentin
William Lee Scott ... Roy Lee
Chad Lindberg ... O'Dell
Natalie Canerday ... Elsie Hickam
Scott Thomas ... Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling Randy Stripling ... Leon Bolden
Chris Ellis ... Principal Turner
Elya Baskin ... Ike Bykovsky
Courtney Cole-Fendley ... Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)
David Dwyer ... Jake Mosby
Terry Loughlin ... Mr. Dantzler
Kaili Hollister ... Valentine Carmina
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Storyline

In a 1950's mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer's father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language, brief teen sensuality and alcohol use, and for some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rocket Boys See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,905,250, 21 February 1999

Gross USA:

$32,570,685

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,698,685
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the actors in the movie would go on to appear in Spider-Man films. Jake Gyllenhaal played Mysterio in Spider-Man Far From Home (2019), Chris Cooper played the ailing Norman Osborne in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Elya Baskin played landlord Mr. Ditkovitch in Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). See more »

Goofs

When the phonograph record is changed during the dance at the Dugout, the records are 45 rpm, but the turntables are rotating at 78 rpm. See more »

Quotes

Homer: Man, we should be trying to get into that science fair instead of sitting around here like a bunch of hillbillies.
Roy Lee: Well, I got some real sad news for you Homer. We *are* a bunch of hillbillies.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The real life people portrayed in the movie are shown during the end credits. See more »


Soundtracks

On Wisconsin
Written by O'dell Willis, William T. Purdy (as W.T. Purdy), Carl D. Beck (as Carl Beck)
Performed by the Central High School Band, Knoxville, Tennessee
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Rocket Boy's Life Soars
22 August 1999 | by NJMoonSee all my reviews

I resisted seeing this movie and I understand why it was not a big hit in theatres. "October Sky" feels and looks oh so familiar. And it is. All plot contrivances and emotions have been explored before in other films -- and possibly even better. But despite it's familiarity and resistance to all formulas Hollywood, this movie is winning and likeable at every turn.

Sputnik is the inspiration for this journey of the heart, mind and soul. Just as the characters from Steven Sondheim's musical MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG stood agape atop their apartment roof hoping it would launch their new generation ("What do you call it? You call it a miracle."), Sputnik has a similar affect on the young rocket boys of this true tale. While jaded townsfolk of their 1950's coal town dismiss the event, Homer Hickham sees Sputnik as his ticket out of a life in the mines.

Masterful direction and casting make the journey of rocket boy Homer and his pals seem fresh and new. Especially affecting are subplots concerning Homer's ailing young school teacher. Remarkable restraint is shown in depicting their delicate relationship. Also remarkable is the father / son supblot that anchors the film. Perfectly played all around. Even Homer's mom gets her moment without cliche or intrusion. Her ultimatum to her husband is both dignified and heatbreaking. "Myrtle Beach" says it all.

A major video chain I despise has a sign next to this film stating that you'll love this film or they'll refund your money. For once, I agree with them. You'll never look at the October sky quite the same again.


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