April 15, 2009

Netflix This: A Review of Rocket Science.

If films like Observe and Report are keeping your from the theater these days, I suggest renting or Netflixing, which can increase the chances of seeing a movie that will make you believe in the art of film.

I also suggest Rocket Science. The main character Hal Hefner (played by the very cute Reece Daniel Thompson who is too young for me to have a crush on, but does not seem to stop me) is a boy with a “bad and unpredictable stutter” who strives to win at High School policy debate (at the urging of a girl of course). But at the macrocosm, making Hal’s story universal, this is a movie about how life should not be as hard as Rocket Science, though navigating it often seems as confusing as such.

Rocket Science premiered at Sundance in 2007, and while I do remember hearing about it at the time, it did not garner the acclaim as say, a Little Miss Sunshine. However, I like Rocket Science just as much, if not more, and while critics received the film very well, both the NYtimes and the BBC said it felt too familiar; the NYtimes described it as a coming of age story reminiscent of Rushmore. While both movies belong in the same genre, perhaps I have seen Rushmore more recently than the NYtimes critic because Rocket Science one-ups Rushmore in authenticity. Wes Anderson’s movies have an air of magical surrealism to them that I (and his audiences) love, but Rocket Science is grounded in realism, finding its humor in the everyday absurd, rather than the absurd of one person’s imagination. Though like a Wes Anderson movie, Rocket Science also has a rocking soundtrack.

This is a movie I would recommend to my parents, my friends, and strangers on the street. Anyone who has ever had his or her heart broken, failed at something, or learned a good lesson the hard way will love this movie will love this movie (If you don’t fall into these categories, just go away. Seriously. Go.). But the central theme never suffers from cheesiness; Rocket Science is sophisticated and smart. My favorite scenes occur in the office of a high school counselor and showcase the true wit driving the screenplay. Also, the acting is superb. Every actor in this movie shows he or she is at the top of their craft, noteworthy since many of the actors are in their teens and twenties. If I have not yet convinced you to rent or Netflix it, let me leave you with a challenge. I dare you to find a more likable hero of this indie genre than Hal Hefner. In fact I take that back—I double dog dare you.

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