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A Million Miles Away

MOVIE | A Hispanic immigrant pursues NASA dreams with the help of a tenacious marriage

Daniel Daza/Prime

<em>A Million Miles Away</em>
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Rated PG
Prime Video

To show what he wants to be when he grows up, young José Hernández draws a picture of himself shooting into space in a corncob rocket. The kids at school might laugh when he pronounces his numbers with a Mexican accent, but he can out-math them all. Who better than a migrant like José to jump into the unknown of space? Who better to endure rigorous NASA training than a boy who jumped out of bed every day at 4 a.m. to harvest corn?

A Million Miles Away tells the true story of the first migrant farm worker ever to leave the planet. Inspired by the 1969 moon launch—reflected in the eyes of the open-mouthed Hernández kids while their dad fries hamburgers and onions—a grown-up José (Michael Peña) lands an engineering job at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The well-meaning receptionist thinks he’s the janitor, and his supervisor buries him under busywork at the Xerox machine. Trying to fit into this new world of sweater vests and white bread sandwiches, Hernández leaves his enchiladas at home and swaps his gaudy, Latino-music-blaring Impala for a sensible car. The car saleswoman and fellow migrant Adela (Rosa Salazar) charms both José and the viewer in an instant. For José to see her again, the tough heroine warns, “You would have to meet my father first. At your own risk.”

The two confess their dreams on Adela’s dad’s flowered couch. Adela wants to be a chef. José wants to be an astronaut. “Stop at my restaurant for unas tamales on your way back from Mars,” she laughs. “I’ll give you a discount.”

Daniel Daza/Prime

Come for the astronaut story. Stay for the romance. We get a glimpse of a beautiful immigrant story: a wedding, a birth, a baptism, another birth, a former migrant worker leading a meeting of the world’s top engineers. But José’s NASA rejection letters pile up. For him to make it to space, his wife must lay aside her culinary ambitions and push him to learn how to speak Russian, fly a plane, and ­deep-sea dive. More babies come. Pancakes, eggs, and high chairs pile up in the Hernández house. “Our people make sacrifices,” Adela says. “It’s on us now.”

Inspiring moments and strong characters draw you in, but the ­runtime could have been trimmed. As one astronaut in the film quips, “Tenacity is a superpower.” You’ll need your own grit to get to the end of the film, but it’s worth sticking around for José and Adela’s marriage and perseverance in chasing a dream.

Astronaut movies

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey / 1968
  • The Right Stuff / 1983
  • Apollo 13 / 1995
  • Armageddon / 1998
  • Gravity / 2013
  • Interstellar / 2014
  • The Martian / 2015
  • Passengers / 2016
  • First Man / 2018
  • Ad Astra / 2019

Chelsea Boes

Chelsea is editor of World Kids.



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