Space Camp

Movie review by
Nancy Davis Kho, Common Sense Media
Space Camp Movie Poster Image
Teen dramedy about space shuttle never lifts off.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Teens break curfew, are disrespectful of space camp program, and one another's abilities, but repeated admonishments about the importance of teamwork finally sink in.


Younger boy in bullying incident that ends without physical injury, but one of his possessions is broken.


Teen couple flirts and kisses.


Both campers and instructors swear in stressful situations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ground-based mission control specialists smoke during crisis.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLowe's man January 9, 2014

could've been better

The storyline is very well-intentioned. When the teen campers are accidnetally launched in space, it's up to them to put what little training they had to... Continue reading
Adult Written byChuck Reid March 17, 2012

Pretty good movie.

This movie is funny and really cool.Buy it or rent it and enjoy! You'll thank me later.
Kid, 11 years old December 17, 2020

CSM didn't really get all of the details...

There is some kissing in the film + swearing, but I thought it was decent (it's kinda funny) . If I remember correctly, there was also some smoking-but not... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bybluekittycat10 April 9, 2017

Has a lot of error, but is light-hearted and fun.

This movie is pretty funny once you're old enough to notice the errors in it. The characters are relatable, the kids take on a lot of responsibility, and t... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate