Rocket Science Rocket Science is one of those terminally annoying, depressive-yet-coy Sundance faves in which the tale of a mopey teen misfit unfolds behind a hard candy… Rocket Science Rocket Science is one of those terminally annoying, depressive-yet-coy Sundance faves in which the tale of a mopey teen misfit unfolds behind a hard candy… 2007-08-10 R PT98M Comedy Drama Anna Kendrick Reece Daniel Thompson HBO Films Picturehouse
Movie Review

Rocket Science (2007)

MPAA Rating: R
SHUTTER BUG Thompson is fit to be tongue-tied in Rocket Science , another Sundance fave that doesn't live up to the buzz
Image credit: Jim Bridges
SHUTTER BUG Thompson is fit to be tongue-tied in Rocket Science, another Sundance fave that doesn't live up to the buzz
EW's GRADE
C

Details Limited Release: Aug 10, 2007; Rated: R; Length: 98 Minutes; Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Anna Kendrick and Reece Daniel Thompson; Distributors: HBO Films and Picturehouse

Rocket Science is one of those terminally annoying, depressive-yet-coy Sundance faves in which the tale of a mopey teen misfit unfolds behind a hard candy shell of irony. The movie, set in Plainsboro, N.J., is too hip to ask you to feel sorry for Hal Hefner (Reece Daniel Thompson), a gawky, floppy-haired high school stutterer. Yet it never explores his psychology or anguish. His stuttering is presented as the behavioral equivalent of a dysfunctional halo — a trait that confers outsider status, and the ''innocence'' that goes with it. The director, Jeffrey Blitz, who made the acclaimed documentary Spellbound (and who has discussed growing up as a stutterer himself), doesn't trust the audience to respond to the situations he creates. He turns everything into a glib indie commercial, from the speech pathologist who tells Hal ''It's really a shame you're not hyperactive'' to the brainiac Ginny (Anna Kendrick), who speaks in mile-a-minute sentences and pushes him onto the debate team.

Why filter such a personal story through the attitudinal tics of Wes Anderson and Napoleon Dynamite, especially if you're going to do it with about one-third the skill? Nothing in Rocket Science quite parses. Ginny, the verbal genius, starts out with a crush on Hal (we can see why she might prefer a quiet boy), but then she takes a hostile turn that isn't remotely explained. And Thompson, who has a winning presence, isn't asked to show any anger — a glaring omission in a story of adolescent pain. Rocket Science is a movie that never quite spits out what it has to say.

Originally posted Aug 08, 2007 Published in issue #948 Aug 17, 2007 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners