Jeffrey Blitz dynamically deconstructs teen angst in Rocket Science.
There is something quite intimate and witty as the fictionalized story of Hal Hefner (Reece Daniel Thompson) stammering and stuttering his way through adolescence.
The script, also by Blitz, puts Hefner in a quandry as his parents (Denis O'Hare, Lisbeth Bartlett) break up. Smart-as-a-whip Ginny (Anna Kendrick) lures the debilitated Hal into hooking up with the debate team in their New Jersey suburban high school. It could be his calling and a way to be close to Ginny, although there are obstacles in the form of Ginny's former beau (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Hal's nagging big brother (Vincent Piazza).
The dialogue is sharp, decisive, and derisive at times which works into the vitriolic nature of the material that intelligently sees Hal at the mercy of not only his peers, but himself. The humor, to give Blitz credit, hardly is gratuitous. And, he appears to be right on the teen zeitgeist at the moment, especially when it concerns establishing identity and connecting with the opposite sex.
It isn't a gimmick that Thompson has a knack for not saying what is inside, and, as a result, is wryly winsome. The perspective of teenagers respecting their growing pains and knowing what lies ahead is hardly a bed of roses rings true.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Rocket Science finds redemption in an outrageous way with resorting to deep sentiment as kids get the idea that everyone can be winners even if you don't always "win". The cinematic quotient gains resonance from less analysis and going with the complexities life offers. It all makes sense in a rather wildly humorous, ironically self-effacing way.