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October Sky
Joe Johnson
Starring: Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Owen

Length: 153 minutes
Rated: PG (MPAA)
Studio: Universal Studios

This beautiful movie is based on the book Rocket Boys, which is the true story of Homer Hickham. Homer, an idealistic teenager living in a West Virginia coal mining town, witnesses the 1957 launch of Sputnik and, with the energy that comes with wonder, is inspired to build and send rockets into space.

The town, however, is mostly closed-minded and unworldly, and people think Homer is chasing impossible dreams. His father, who is totally committed to working in the townís coal mine, believes that Homer should follow in his footsteps, and as a result, finds Homerís interest in rocketry to be a threatening folly. Homer doesnít want to succeed his father in the family business, however, and we see the effects of the adversarial father-son relationship on Homer and his family.

Despite the odds, Homer does find a few supportive people in his world. Three of his buddies are also interested in rocketry, and, with Homer as the lead thinker, the four boys find ways to build successful rockets, through trial and error.  One of the men who works in the mine also makes things out of metal, and helps Homer realize his rocket designs. His mother supports him in quiet ways despite the tension it creates in her marriage. And, his teacher is an encouraging and inspiring coach who believes in Homer and who helps him to achieve his dreams. She motivates him to enter the science fair, which ends up being his ticket out of town. The rest is history. Homer Hickham won the top prize, went on to a good school as a result, and became a scientist at NASA.

From a coaching standpoint, this movie addresses how a person can go places with the ingredients of inspiration, passion, determination, support, and a belief in self. Homer was destined to find a way to succeed. The road that eventually leads to breakthroughs begins with dreaming the impossible dream, and then finding ways to manifest it. Homerís was a process of discovery. This movie, which is one of the best of 1999, offers insights into the perseverance and creativity it takes to overcome the obstacles to achieving what you want, and a chance to witness the joys of success. Let Homer be your inspiration to believe in yourself and your dreams.





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