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SpaceCamp (1986, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston)

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Like The Manchurian Candidate (1962) before it, SpaceCamp fell foul of history. This action/adventure story was prepped for an American release in early 1986. At the same time the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing seven astronauts and temporarily condemning the space race. In an impossible situation the film was eventually released months later, without major success.

In happier times, it would have fared better, charting the story of Andie Bergstrom (KATE CAPSHAW) an astronaut who fails to be selected for a space shuttle mission and takes a place teaching at NASA’s space camp instead.

Her inaugural crew includes the ambitious Kathy (LEA THOMPSON), earnest Kevin (TATE DONOVAN), trendy Tish (KELLY PRESTON), eager Rudy (LARRY B. SCOTT) and 10-year-old boffin Max (LEAF PHOENIX). Their wish for maturity is granted with a vengeance when a test launch in the shuttle Atlantis turns into the real thing, and they are plummeted into space with only a short-wave radio and limited oxygen supplies.

With ground control all but helpless, the trainee crew realises the only hope is to reach the space station Daedalus and obtain supplies. In doing so, they jeopardise their chances of finding a safe orbit back to Earth. With time running out they must overcome personal problems to work together and survive.

Collectors of trivia will delight in noting that Leaf Phoenix, meanwhile, changed his name to highly bankable Joacquin Phoenix.

production details
US | 107 minutes | 1986

Director: Harry Winer
Writers: W.W. Wicket, Casey T. Mitchell

cast
Kate Capshaw as Andie Bergstrom
Lea Thompson as Kathryn Fairly
Kelly Preston as Tish Ambrosei
Larry B. Scott as Rudy Tyler
Joaquin Phoenix as Max
Tate Donovan as Kevin Donaldson
Tom Skerritt as Cmdr. Zach Bergstrom
Terry O’Quinn as Launch Director