out of Five
Running time: 101
Enjoyably offbeat comedy drama with likeable characters and a terrific script, though its relentlessly unconventional nature is ultimately frustrating.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz (who made the award-winning spelling bee documentary, Spellbound), Rocket Science stars Reece Daniel Thompson as stuttering teenager Hal Hefner, whose crippling speech impediment wreaks havoc with both his school life and his home life. When gorgeous brainiac Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick) asks Hal to be her partner in the ultra-competitive school debate team, Hal is instantly smitten and he strives to achieve the potential that Ginny says she sees in him, unaware that her own intentions lie elsewhere.
Thompson is terrific as Hal and he really makes you feel the agony of not being able to get your words out. Kendrick is equally good as the fiercely intelligent, motor-mouthed object of his affections and there's strong support from Vincent Piazza (as Hal's kleptomaniacal brother) and especially from Nicholas D'Agosto as Ginny's former partner, debating legend drop-out Ben Wekselbaum.
Words are clearly of great importance to Blitz and his superb script crackles with excellent dialogue, delivered in brilliantly deadpan fashion by a terrific supporting cast. It's also interesting that so many of the characters use words as weapons, whether it's Hal's mother throwing out his father by shouting, Ginny bombarding Hal with rapid-fire speeches or his brother insulting him by continually calling him by different girl's names.
It seems churlish to complain about a film that deliberately subverts expectations and kicks against the usual cliches, but it's also fair to say that Rocket Science sabotages a particularly brilliant set up towards the end of the film, leaving us initially frustrated rather than uplifted.
In short, Rocket Science is an enjoyable comedy drama with superb performances and a terrific script and its avoidance of clichés is commendable if not entirely successful. Great soundtrack too. Worth seeing.
Rocket Science (15)