Rocket Science (Missed Movies)

One is tempted to compare Rocket Science (2007) to other quirky adolescent comedies like Rushmore (1998) and Napoleon Dynamite (2004). Rocket Science writer-director Jeffrey Blitz does appear influenced by Rushmore, using music that would not feel out of place in that movie, and he features a young hero, played by Reece Thompson, who looks a bit like Jason Schwartzman, the star of Rushmore. But Rocket Science is its own movie and one worth seeking out.

Rocket Science tells the story of the 15-year-old Hal Hefner (Thompson), who has a bad stutter but joins the high school debate team to be near the team’s star, played by Anna Kendrick, who has gone on to star in other films like Up in the Air (2009). It took me awhile before I warmed to Rocket Science, but the film slowly draws you in. Despite featuring some cliche’s of this genre, like “the obnoxious brother,” the movie does not go for easy or predictable resolutions.

At the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Blitz won the Dramatic Directing Award, and the movie garnered some attention but not as much as other similar movies. I am tempted to say, “if you liked Rushmore, you’ll like Rocket Science,” but actually, if you go in looking for something like Director Wes Anderson’s Rushmore you will probably be disappointed.

But if you are looking for a different kind of coming-of-age film that maintains a fair amount of realism, this film that is based in part on Blitz’s own adolescence is worth the rental. And at least for now, the full film is on YouTube, while the trailer is below.

Other Reviews Because Why Should You Trust Me?: Rotten Tomatoes gives Rocket Science an 84% Critics Rating and a 71% Audience Rating. (Rushmore has a similar Critics Rating at 87% but a much higher audience rating at 91%.) Margaret Pomeranz from Australia’s At the Movies said the film is “wryly funny in parts, poignant, interesting, frustrating, but never less than really engaging.” On the other hand, David Cornelius at DVDTalk praises the cast but said the film “toss[es] us attention-grabbing nuttiness that never once feels earned, or needed, or true.”

{Missed Movies is our continuing series on good films you might have missed because they did not receive the recognition they deserved when released.}

What did you think of Rocket Science? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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