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October Sky

DOWN & DIRTY:
Drama: A teenager hopes to break free from his predetermined life by winning a national science fair competition with his rocket designs.

NITTY GRITTY:
In 1957 Coalwood, West Virginia, the coal mine is the town's largest employer and almost every male living there works, or will work, in the mines. John Hickam (CHRIS COOPER), the mine superintendent, loves his job and hopes that his boys, Jim (SCOTT THOMAS) and Homer (JAKE GYLLENHAAL), will one day join him working there.

As the townspeople gather outside one starry October night, they see the Soviet satellite Sputnik race across the sky. Filled with awe and a belief that this may be his ticket out of Coalwood, Homer sets out to build rockets of his own.

Everyone thinks he's crazy, especially when he teams up with the school math geek Quentin (CHRIS OWEN) and friends Roy Lee (WILLIAM LEE SCOTT) and Odell (CHAD LINDBERG).Their science teacher, Miss Riley (LAURA DERN), hopes that Homer and his friends will enter their work in a science fair contest.

With the help and encouragement of some towns people, the boys begin their tests, but get into hot water with the local authorities when the police arrest the boys for starting a forest fire near their launch site.

THE ENDING:
The boys give up their rocket building and go back to school. Homer's father is injured in a mine accident and Homer goes to work in the mine to support the family. One night after work, Homer figures out that their rocket was not what started the forest fire. He and Quentin find the lost rocket and take the information to the authorities who clear the boys.

Homer decides to go back to school and enter the science fair. He takes the rockets to the national science fair and wins. All four boys get scholarships and get out of Coalwood.

WHAT EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT:
The train scene. The boys need money for their rockets and they take rails from an abandoned railroad spur. Then they hear a train whistle and quickly try to put the rail back. When they can't get the rail placed back, they run up the tracks yelling for the engine to stop. The engine glides by them on ANOTHER track, bypassing them and the abandoned spur.


 
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Movie posters courtesy of The Nostalgia Factory.