This adaptation of Homer H Hickam's best selling memoir Rocket Boys is set in a working class corner of the Appalachians, where life for the young folk follows a depressingly familiar pattern: after high school, down the mine. Young Homer (Gyllenhaal) however, gazes up at Sputnik in the night sky and is inspired to join the '50s space race by experimenting with his own homemade rockets. Encouraged by a teacher (Dern), Homer and his pals look to the state and national school science fairs, where college scholarships are up for grabs, thinking the unthinkable for mining town lads. Still, Hickam senior (Cooper, never better), pit foreman, disapproves of such foolishness. Even if Homer were to build a successful rocket, would it create a permanent rift between him and his dad? Director Johnston plays this archetypal tale of small town endeavour straight and simple. Such plainspeaking sincerity might be mistaken for mere slush, but the TV movie subject matter is infused with genuine feeling for the value of learning as a passport to freedom, and an authentic regard for the honest graft of working men.
Cast and crew
William Lee Scott