THE RIGHT STUFF, written and directed by Philip Kaufman, is based on Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book of the same title. Covering a time frame from 1942 through 1963, it presents a winning portrait of America’s entry into the Space Age by focusing on the astronauts, their wives, the NASA officials, the politicians, and the journalists who were involved in the awesome, funny, surreal, and heroic adventure.
The drama ambitiously portrays some of the nation’s most persistent moral ambiguities — its love-hate relationship with technology, its thirst for idealized heroes, its insatiable hunger for new frontiers, and its somewhat contradictory notions about the value of teamwork and respect for rugged individualism. This innovative, engaging, and thematically rich film mixes documentary footage from the past with staged action and vivid special effects. The ensemble acting of a fine and large cast is commendable.