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October sky

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

October sky is the triumphant true story of Homer Hickam Junior (Jake Gyllenhaal), a high school student in rural West Virginia USA, who seemed destined to repeat his father's (Chris Cooper) harsh life in the coal mines until he turned his attention to the skies. At odds with his father, determined to better himself and inspired by the dawn of the space age, he embarks on a quixotic mission that changes his life forever.

Starring Laura Dern as Miss Riley, Natalie Canerday as Homer's mother, Chris Owen, William Lee Scott and Chad Lindberg as Homer's buddies. Written and directed by Joe Johnston.

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report


October sky is a great little story about how geeks came to rule the Earth. Not geeks of evil like Bill Gates but geeks of good, like those at NASA.

I grew up after the space age (although one of my earliest memories is of a post-moonwalk splashdown, maybe even the splashdown) but I have always been a geek at heart, devouring Science fiction like it was sliced bread. I remember where I was when Challenger blew up. I used to have glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. I even built the computer on which I typed this review.

Geek credentials presented, I will now go on to say that October sky takes the life of a proto-geek in Nogeeksville, USA, and blasts him into orbit. If you've ever experimented with rockets, fireworks or anything else that makes loud noises and blows things up, then this is a flick for you.

There's more to the story than geek meets pocket protector, geek loses pocket protector, geek gets pocket protector: there is a truly painful look at family life, an ugly view of capitalism and a glimpse of the innocent joy that belongs only to the young. Homer's relationship with his family and friends pulls Jake Gylenhaal 's acting ability in every direction and it turns out to be no stretch at all. He is loving, angry, dedicated, distraught, determined and depressed. Chris Cooper portrays not only an angry father but, like the rest of the supporting cast, all the aches and pains that make him so.

October sky is a drama as much as it is a 50s teen adventure. There's something in it for everyone (unless you're after a druggie-crim-shooting flick) and I have no hesitation in recommending it to everyone.

Security censorship classification

PG (Adult themes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

107 minutes (1:47 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 14 October 1999

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