NPR logo 'Rocket Science'

'Rocket Science'

Rocket Science's Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson), left speechless by girls, school and the trials of adolescence in general. Jim Bridges/Picturehouse hide caption

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Jim Bridges/Picturehouse

Rocket Science's Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson), left speechless by girls, school and the trials of adolescence in general.

Jim Bridges/Picturehouse
  • Director: Jeffrey Blitz
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

(Requires RealPlayer)

Director Jeffrey Blitz won an Oscar nomination for his first movie, Spellbound, a documentary about a national spelling bee. He's still dealing with adolescents and school contests in his first fiction film — a comedy about a stutterer who joins the debate team to impress a pretty girl.

Think you know where this is going? Well, Blitz is an outsider to Hollywood, and he's going someplace else: into quirky, indie-flick social satire, which isn't an altogether unfamiliar place these days.

In fact, there have been enough offbeat coming-of-age comedies in just the last couple of years — The Squid and the Whale, Napoleon Dynamite, Little Miss Sunshine — that it's possible now to say that this film is unconventional in mostly conventional ways. Still, between Blitz, who proves a clever writer and director, and his young leading man (Reece Thompson, who puts a lot of character behind that stutter), the smarts and charm of Rocket Science are simply not open to debate. (Recommended)