"Sky" recounts the inspiring true story of Homer Hickam (Gyllenhaal), a high-school student in a 1950's West Virginia coal town where the only future appears to be following father John (Cooper) into the mines. Then the miracle called "Sputnik" happens, awakening in Homer a fascination with rocketry, and a determination to build his own working rocket. Though the authoritarian John is against his son's fanciful quest, the encouragement of teacher Frieda Riley (Dern) and the possibility of a college scholarship drive Homer to persevere.
This sterling family entertainment demonstrates the always-relevant life lesson of adhering to your own passions and interests. Director Joe Johnston imbues the film with an authentic '50s feel, and conveys the sense of a young man who wants to go further than anyone thinks he can, thus creating an unexpected future for himself. Gyllenhaal and Dern both excel, but Cooper almost steals the picture as Homer's hard, rigid Dad. "October Sky" truly soars.