SpaceCamp (1986)

4.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Decent special effects considering the time, fun young cast

Bad story, movie a victim of unfortunate timing

Movie Info

Movie Name:  SpaceCamp

Studio:  ABC Motion Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  June 6, 1986

MPAA Rating:  PG


You are the worst teacher ever!

Andie Bergstrom (Kate Capshaw) has dreamed of seeing the stars since she was little, and as an astronaut, she is still waiting for her chance to go up on a mission.  Convinced into teaching Space Camp for a summer by her husband Zach (Tom Skerritt), Andie tries to get Kathryn Fairly (Lea Thompson), Kevin Donaldson (Tate Donovan), Tish Ambrose (Kelly Preston), Rudy Tyler (Larry B. Scott), and the young recruit Max Graham (Leaf (Joaquin) Phoenix) to form a team at the camp.  A robot named Jinx decides he can help Max reach his dream of going to space and the group is accidentally launched into space…now the race to get home begins!

Directed by Harry Winer, SpaceCamp is a family adventure film.  The movie was plagued by problems and the release unfortunately occurred soon after the explosion of the Challenger on January 28, 1986.  The movie was panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office.


Guys just reminding you that only one of us is going to get multiple Oscar nominations…

I can remember the Challenger’s explosion, and I remember watching SpaceCamp not long afterwards and thinking “I have no desire to go to space”.  This obviously was a backfire type response to a movie that was supposed to be a lighthearted adventure.  With all the problems in the film, SpaceCamp still remains a rather “meh” adventure film for kids.

The story for the movie first is ridiculous.  The whole set-up of allowing children to sit in a rocket during a controlled burn wouldn’t happen…in addition how would you choose the kids (especially since these kids seem to be screw-ups)?  The robot, the launch, and the “drama” involved in the space flight seems forced and cheesy (even as a kid).

The cast has gone on to other things.  Kate Capshaw was about at her peak with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but the younger cast grew in popularity.  Lea Thompson played the aspiring astronaut while Kelly Preston was the “hip” one with photographic memory.  Larry B. Scott was the screw up who went on to play the flamboyant Lemar in Revenge of the Nerds and Tate Donovan has done shows like Damages and The O.C. with movie appearances in Argo and Good Night, and Good Luck.   The most successful cast member is probably Leaf Phoenix who later changed his name to Joaquim Phoenix…unfortunately Jinx has been seen since the movie (though voice man Frank Welker did provide his voice).


A robot that makes Gobots seem cool.

Surprisingly the movie looks ok for special effects.  It has to be considered that SpaceCamp didn’t have the luxury of being able to shoot like something like Apollo-13 and simulating weightlessness was a lot harder.  In that sense, it isn’t that bad, but a weak plot lets the movie down.

SpaceCamp is a goofy, nostalgic movie for kids of the ’80s, but that is about it.  Bottom line is that the movie isn’t that good, but seeing the young cast is fun and you might be able to convince a kid to watch it…the movie barely makes it off the launch pad.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "SpaceCamp (1986)"

  1. kelly April 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Kathryn fairly is my favorite character

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