Video Picks Archive

July 28, 1999
This Week's Video Picks
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This week my picks are October Sky (1999 - ) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957 - ).

The first film is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a NASA scientist who started out shooting off homemade rockets with his friends. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a 17-year-old Hickam, who grew up in a small coal-mining town in West Virginia. His work is inspired by the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and by his favorite teacher, played by Laura Dern. An engaging film about exceeding society's expectations and following your dream at any cost. This film is a huge leap from the previous work of director (and former ILM effects man) Joe Johnston. It was originally titled Rocket Boys, like Hickam's original book, but changed to October Sky so that it wouldn't make money. I guess the former title was too memorable, nearly forcing people to see the film.

Hickam's rockets took him to the National Science Fair in Indianapolis. While he was there, he went to see the second film. This classic work of science fiction stars Grant Williams as Scott Carey, an ordinary man who inexplicably starts to shrink. This film transcends the notion of being a cheap gimmick movie by exploring what it means to be significant. Very realistic effects, and a riveting finale, combine with this theme to make it truly unforgettable. Directed by Jack Arnold, and not to be confused with the odd little comedy, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, starring Lily Tomlin.

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
October Sky (1999)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
October Sky (1999) -- VHS
October Sky (1999) -- DVD
Rocket Boys, a memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. -- Hardcover
October Sky, a memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. -- Paperback (title changed for film tie-in)
Rocket Boys, a memoir by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. -- Audio Cassette (read by Beau Bridges)
October Sky: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) -- VHS
The Incredible Shrinking Man, a novel by Richard Matheson -- Paperback Home
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Capsule Reviews © 1999 Matt Heffernan