This is the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr.- a bright teenager obsessed with rockets and science who, much to the befuddlement of his family and neighbors of his small, working class coal mining town, defied the odds to follow his dreams during the space race years of the 50s.
It's a very inspiring story that is filled with heart, warmth, humor, and does a good job at dealing with issues of family, working class life, and following one's dreams. That, and it's got a notable cast including a young Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, and Laura Dern.
Hickam did eventually become a NASA engineer, but the film primarily focuses on the earliest leg of that journey, and the scenes of him and his friends trying to get into the rocket game for themselves are both funny and charming.
This is Joe Johnston making a nice drama and pulling it off pretty well. He's got a spotty record, but this is one of his better efforts, and one I find my self enjoying quite a bit each time I see it. Sure, there are shades of typical tropes like the father wanting the son to follow in his footsteps, and people interested in a subject that doesn't fit in with what everyone else in their locale appreciates, but it's handled decently, and the performances are nice, too.