The Right Stuff
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie -- which was previously rated R in 1983 and was later re-rated -- is very long and some of the astronauts' conduct, including locker room-type banter, may be unsuitable for younger kids. For older kids, the movie offers a human perspective on what is arguably America's greatest technological feat -- space flight. It also addresses themes of loyalty and the value of cooperation through a gripping story and spectacular visuals that have aged well. Peppered with laughs, it also features an Academy Award-winning score.
What's the story?
As the Cold War begins, America strives to achieve super-sonic flight. But once Soviet satellite Sputnik captures international attention, putting a man in space becomes America's top priority. The movie juxtaposes Edwards Air Force Base, where Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) makes history as the most daring pilot alive, and Cape Canaveral, where a few carefully selected men, including John Glenn (Ed Harris) and Gordon \"Gordo\" Cooper (Dennis Quaid), train diligently to be hurled into space. As NASA scientists and engineers struggle to come up with a feasible rocket, the astronauts (and their wives) struggle with the tremendous risks of their profession, along with sudden, overwhelming fame. Once NASA devises a rocket capable of surviving a launch, the seven astronauts deemed to have THE RIGHT STUFF band together and form a heroic team.
Is it any good?
This fine adaptation of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book is over three hours long, but a well-structured story, stellar acting, and exciting action sequences make the time fly. Especially hilarious is a ridiculous sequence where the astronauts-to-be, including ultra-cocky contestant Gordo, undergo a barrage of pointless medical and endurance tests. The only fellow who seems unruffled by the ordeal is John Glenn (now a U.S. Senator in real life), a former Marine whose charm and moral stature never waver. The movie is an epic love letter to America's aviator heroes, but its reverent tone is interjected with plenty of humor. Good for tweens and teens.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the competitiveness of the astronaut program and how the families coped. How would you deal with such dangerous work? Discuss the way that Yaeger was shut out of the program. Why are college degrees so important? Is it possible to be successful without one? What about how Gus was treated after his capsule sank in the ocean? Do you believe that it was an accident? Families can also discuss how the media portrays space exploration in general. Is it always exciting?