From the award-winning director of Spellbound comes the story of Hal Hefner, a misfit teenager with a doomed crush, a beat-up suitcase and the whole world resting on the tip of his tongue...
Rocket Science follows the life of fifteen-year-old Hal, an awkward kid with a stutter who wants to rise from obscurity and become an unlikely hero of his high school. Hal sees his chance when Ginny Ryerson -- the ambitious, fast-stalking star of the debate team -- convinces him that he's got the raw talent to succeed at public speaking. Falling madly in love and discovering new confidence, Hal sets out on an improbable journey through the pitfalls and perils of the New Jersey suburbs. Deadpan comic and achingly real, Rocket Science is "a metaphor for the insecurity and confusion felt by every sensitive soul trapped inside the bubble of adolescence." (The New York Times)
Hal Hafner has an unfortunate speech impediment; he can never seem to find the words he's looking for. His home life is not one to be admired. He trudges through each day being noticed by as few people as possible, but one day he found out that he could not escape Ginny. She is the star of the debate team and she tries to recruit Hal so his "hidden talent" can come out. Her words inspire him...almost as much as her looks. He devotes his free time to learning her craft and winning her affection.
When I saw this was a movie about a kid trying to find himself amongst his problems by joining the debate team, I was terrified it was Thumbsucker all over again. While the movies, on a broad scale, seem to encompass many of the same issues, they are very different movies. (And for what it is worth, I liked Rocket Science a good deal more than I did Thumbsucker.)
The story itself was decent, but I was impressed more with the details. Each character was great; there was not a single one I would have left out. Reece Thompson was great as Hal. I think I was impressed most with how he was able to make the part so complex. But all secondary and tertiary characters from Hal's brother, to his mom's new boyfriend, to the little 12-year-old pervert who lives across the street from Ginny added to the experience.
I loved how the movie glorified debate. I love how the movie glorified New Jersey. And I love how the movie glorified the sweet revenge of giving someone the finger.
Rocket Science had a few scenes that were weird enough to notice, but not to keep me from enjoying this movie or recommending it to others. I thought the writing was well done and more mature than the movie's high-school setting might suggest. Rocket Science had some of the genuine character that seems to only hover around smaller movies and draws me away from Hollywood more each year. It is that character that leaves me with such a good feeling after this movie, even though it wasn't a great movie. But it was a good movie with memorable elements.
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