Teen dramedy about space shuttle never lifts off.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie revolves around a perilous mission on the Space Shuttle, and in light of the Challenger and Columbia disasters, both the tension and the comedy seem inappropriate. Teen campers sneak away from dorms, and a motivated, capable girl learns an overly harsh lesson about leadership.
Creepy movie lost in space
Report this review
could've been better
Report this review
What's the Story?
In SPACECAMP, filmed on location at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, a motley crew of campers led by an ambitious astronaut must overcome their inexperience when they are mistakenly launched into space without adequate training or supplies. Relying on ingenuity, courage, and a helping hand from the ground-based Mission Control, the crew of five includes teens Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, and Joaquin Phoenix when he was still young enough to be called Leaf.
Is It Any Good?
Of the movie's many problems, the worst was its timing. It was released six months after the Challenger mission ended in disaster, and nothing about the threat of an inadvertent shuttle launch seems funny or entertaining. The fact that the mistaken launch follows a series of highly implausible actions by a robot who sounds like a cross between E.T. and R2D2 just adds to the misery. The movie is a 1980s set piece, with references to nuclear annihilation, Star Wars, and one "Whip me, Beat me, Take away my charge card!" from Preston, who dresses like Madonna in her "Lucky Star" years.
One place where the movie gets it right is in its respect and awe of the American space program, too often relegated to the back of public consciousness. The NASA training facility and mission control, as well as details of the shuttle's flight, may captivate young astronauts in training.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the sequence of events that lead the campers into actual space flight; is anything about that realistic? In light of shuttle disasters, what precautions do you think are in place to prevent accidental launches? Which characters exhibit the most promising leadership qualities in the crew?
- In theaters: June 6, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 2004
- Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan
- Director: Harry Winer
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: March 2, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
Thrilling story of the people behind the mission.
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate