“The Right Stuff” is a fascinating true story with good acting, but the 3+ hour runtime is simply too long to be manageable in one sitting. This is reflected in the film’s poor box office performance despite rave reviews from the critics. The film chronicles the transformation of military test pilots into NASA astronauts during the space race of the 1950’s. If you are interested in either of these topics, the film will prove to be informative and entertaining. If you are indifferent to either of these topics, this will be the longest 192 minutes of your life. I watched the film in two chunks on separate days and I still found myself counting down the minutes until its ending. The film’s length is a result of the emphasis on Chuck Yeager. It bothers me that the film introduces Yeager as what you would assume to be the main character, and then he disappears for nearly 2 hours before coming back at the end. He is included in the story because the future of space travel began with his fearlessness as a test pilot; however, his inclusion adds a significant amount of content to a story that does not concern him. This film received a slew of Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Cinematography, and Sam Shepard for Best Supporting Actor (ironically as Yeager, who shouldn’t have been in the film). It was deserving of its wins in technical categories like Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound, but I just wasn’t impressed with the overall film. The acting of Ed Harris and Dennis Quaid is impressive, all of the training sequences are cool, and the filming of the Mercury missions truly brings space flight to life. “The Right Stuff” is an interesting look at NASA’s entrance into the space race but I’d prefer to watch a 1-hour documentary version.
[Pictured: Some of the imagery is iconic, but it'd be better if the movie didn't last for 3+ hours]