A few years back, there was a little indie film that hit big by the name of “Napoleon Dynamite.” I think that the film “Rocket Science”, in a way, has exceeded “NP.” Now, it may be hard for this film to make it as big as box office-wise because it is more indie than mainstream, but to be honest, I truly enjoyed this film because of the fact that it had an edge to it that “NP” didn’t.
Hal Hefner (Reece Daniel Thompson) is a stuttering high school student who has the hardest of time even ordering pizza from the cafeteria lady. His older brother is a thief who never calls Hal by his name, instead calling him a wide variety of girl’s names and terrorizing him at any available opportunity. Virginia Reyerson (Anna Kendrick) is the school’s debate champion who decides to draft Hal into the ranks of the debate team one day. Of course, if Hal can’t even order pizza at school, imagine how much he stutters in front of a class of students while trying to debate about abstinence.
The film was written/directed by Jeffery Blitz (“Spellbound”) and his direction was well-executed complementing the film’s story, which has some wittiest writing I have seen in a film since “Rushmore.” The story is crafted in a way that it follows the under-dog theme, yet branches out and becomes original the way only good indie films can. The acting is also well done with not one of the actors giving a weak performance, but I have to say my favorite character out of the film has to be Hal’s Korean bi-curious friend Heston. Every time that kid gets into frame is just pure comedy. He doesn’t even have to say anything at times, he just steals the scene by popping in and staring in this kind of weird sort of way at someone.
There is so much about the film I loved that it is very hard to say I didn’t like anything about it, but it did take a little bit too much time for Hal to finally get over his whole public speech phobia thing. Also, it may have been a much better ending if Hal’s foray into the final debate competition had gone differently. Yet, the ending works because of its overall originality and freshness.
In the end, if “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Rocky” had a kid and placed it in New Jersey, it would be the delightful and fresh “Rocket Science.” This is one of those films that will either hit it big as an indie crossover like “Little Miss Sunshine,” or just make some money and become a film nerd favorite. Either way I recommend you don’t miss this awkwardly fun gem.