Rocket Science Jeffrey Blitz

Rocket Science Jeffrey Blitz
There’s something about indie films and their gawky teenage subjects that always seems to produce a lovable, unlikely hero. Max Fischer (Rushmore) had the record for extracurricular activities, Dawn Wiener (Welcome to the Dollhouse) had headgear and the "Special People’s Club,” and Justin Cobb (Thumbsucker) had his thumb. Hal Hefner has a terrible stutter, and Rocket Science is the story of his uprising. Well, almost. The "master of nothing in his world,” Hal (Vancouver’s Reece Thompson) doesn’t fit in at school or at home and is alienated by his inability to speak, as well as his clepto brother’s bizarre aggression and his detached mother’s broken relationships. When Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick), the school’s top debater, recruits Hal as an impossible pet project, he immediately gains confidence and falls in love. But Hal’s speech and emotional problems aren’t so easy to overcome, and his feelings get tangled up with all of his neuroses. Sure enough, Ginny dumps him after one kiss, and Hal spends the rest of his time trying to woo her back by getting drunk, throwing a cello through her parents’ window and plotting his revenge. Rocket Science is cute and awkward, sitting between the whimsical indie narratives of Wes Anderson and the painfully real life of any given high school hallway. Though it’s flown under the radar, it’s every bit as deserving as its aforementioned contemporaries, with its accurate and peculiarly comedic depiction of every day life. Graduating from beloved doc Spellbound, Blitz has proven his worth as both a writer and director of affecting, hilarious fiction, which, he admits, was loosely based on his life (the stuttering and debating bits). Thompson is a star in the waiting, playing the kid who, like a frightened turtle, can barely come out of his shell. His stutter is both endearing and trying, as it should be, and the featurette reveals how he was sent to a speech pathologist to learn how to stutter. A must for anyone who likes to see an underdog rise to the occasion and almost win. (Independent)