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A touching heartfelt drama,
by Erik Sean McGiven on Jun 30, 2007
A touching heartfelt drama, "Rocket Science"
demonstrates that life is anything but an exact science. This edgy film, with its witty writing and
thoughtful theme, celebrates the determination of a high school student trying
to overcome his speech impediment.
<>Newcomer Reece Thompson plays Hal Hefner, a 15-year-old with
a minor yet socially alienating disability, he stutters uncontrollably. Ordering pizza in the school cafeteria is an
ordeal as he knows what he wants but can't say the word. He lives in a dysfunctional family, his
father moves out after a heated argument and his older brother terrorizes him
by calling him a variety of girl's names.
When the school's debate champion, Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick) decides
to draft Hal for the debate team, we feel his life as the under-dog may be
changing. But can he overcome this
The film's opening scene is that of the New Jersey State
debating finals where Ginny and her partner Ben (Nicholas D'Agosto) are on the
road to winning the title. The scene
illustrates the verbal dexterity required and sets up the hurdles Hal must
face. But then he becomes smitten with
Ginny Ryerson and is fully immersed in her ultra competitive world of high
The casting for this film is pitch perfect and Reece
Thompson builds an endearing character around his affliction, one with a gnawing
desire to connect with others. Anna
Kendrick plays the ambitious femme fatale and her performance, a fascinating
mixture of sensuality and conniving hardness, is the catalyst that drives this
story to its conclusion. Nicholas
D'Agosto is the mystery character in this movie and we wonder if the stress of
competition has been his downfall. Is it
the shame of failure or does he seek the tranquility of being a
non-combatant? Either way, he's an
intriguing character that enables Hal to continue his quest. Aaron Yoo's plays Hal's Korean bi-curious
friend Hesston and he steals many a scene with his weird comic touch. Vincent Piazza as Hal's father vividly
portrays a man descending and lost in a world of confusion and misery.
Making his feature narrative debut, writer/director Jeff
Blitz (Spellbound) perfectly captures the world of adolescent angst where
everyone, regardless of age, is confused by desire and reaching out for human
connection. The story is semi-autobiographical
as Blitz, himself, stuttered while in high school. He decided to joined the debating team and
several years later went on to win the New Jersey State Debating
Championship. "Rocket Science"
plays off the typical Hollywood archetypes and story expectations to present a
touching film that is new, funny, and original.
July 13, 2020