Rocket Science ***
Written and Directed by Jeffrey Blitz
Rated R for some sexual content and language.
To start off, "Rocket Science" does not justify an R rating. There was perhaps one single full usage of the dreaded "F" word, and the supposed "sexual content" was very minimal. But the MPAA has once again screwed over a rather delightful and clever treat. There is a lot to enjoy here-a lot of laughs, and even a little bit of heart, even if the heart portion is somewhat thrown in just to tie up some loose ends. "Rocket Science" is the debut of Jeffrey Blitz, who made the famed documentary "Spellbound," which I have never seen. Now he's on his first feature, once again returning to the world of youngster competition. This time using debate clubs as his backdrop. His main character is Hal Hefner, a young boy with a stuttering problem. His father just left home, and his brother treats him badly whenever things do not go his way. His poor mother is a bit of a mess, and has begun dating an older Asian lawyer, who seemed to have moved in with his son. And then Hal is approached by the beautiful Ginny Ryerson to be on the debate team. Ginny's former partner, Ben Wekselbaum, was perhaps the best debater after herself. However, Ben went somewhat insane during the finals one year, and just stopped speaking, dropped out of high school, and got a job working at a dry cleaner. Now Hal wants to try and drop the stutter and be a better public speaker, and gain the courage to win Ginny's heart.
At times "Rocket Science" does try a little too hard to be a careful and quirky comedy. But then at times it earns it, with a stellar group of supporting characters. They pop up for a scene or two, do not really advance the story, but provide a grand backdrop for the action, as well as popping in some of the best jokes. But this is really just the same old type of coming of age story that we've seen many times, only the story is told very well which makes me forgive it a bit for some of the worn out techniques they use-such as the heart to heart father/son chat during the last scene-the second appearance of the father who disappears after the second scene. And the wonderful narration work by Dan Cashman just seemed borrowed for "The Royal Tenenbaums," and it doesn't help that at the start Cashman sounded a little bit like Alec Baldwin. I almost did a little double take. But all in all, "Rocket Science" is a very enjoyable little film, and will certainly find its audience without a problem when it is released this August.