John Corbett stars in this film based on the 2002 memoir of the same title by teacher Mike Kersjes and Joe Layden. The movie shows the challenges Kersjes faced as he worked to bring out the best from his special education students by taking them to Space Camp, which had, until that time been perceived as a program best suited to advanced science and math students, well beyond the reach of special education students. Several actors playing students in the film have Down syndrome, autism and/or learning disabilities.
|A Smile as Big as the Moon|
|Written by||Thomas Rickman|
|Directed by||James Steven Sadwith|
Peter ten Brink
E. Roger Mitchell
|Theme music composer||Mark Adler|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Cinematography||Roy H. Wagner|
|Editor(s)||Michael D. Ornstein|
|Production company(s)||Hallmark Hall of Fame|
|Preceded by||Have a Little Faith|
Ben, a student with Down syndrome, in Mike Kersjes's Forest Hills Northern High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan, special education class, dreams of becoming an astronaut. Kersjes, who is also a football coach is inspired to pursue Space Camp for his students. Obstacles mount as school administrators object to the expense and Space Camp officials have no experience with special-ed students. Teacher Robynn McKinney supports Kersjes's efforts.
Eventually the trip is approved by the necessary parties, and Kersjes faces another set of challenges: fundraising, preparing the students for their trip with science and physical education, and battling bullying and belittling from other students. Kersjes engages the football team in these endeavors.
The film was shot primarily in Wilmington, North Carolina and at United States Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. One scene used Sky Theater inside Ingram Planetarium of Sunset Beach, North Carolina, which was adapted to appear as a planetarium would have in 1988. Filming took place there September 28, 2011.