Monday, March 17, 2008

    Movie Review: Rocket Science

    I can't quite figure out how the hilarious film "Rocket Science" was so overlooked when it was released last year. It deserved every bit as much attention as the excellent "Juno" received, yet for some reason it didn't quite find an audience. Written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz (who's directed episodes of "The Office" and the great documentary Spellbound), the film centers on the character of Hal Hefner, a stuttering, awkward teenage boy who looks like he wishes he could just disappear from the face of the earth. Hal has to contend with his dysfunctional parents, an angry shoplifting brother, weird friends, ineffective teachers, and a whole host of obnoxious peers at school.

    Things take a turn for Hal when one of the stars of the school debating team, overachiever Ginny Ryerson, adopts Hal as her "project" -- she wants to transform him into a powerhouse debate partner who will help her win the state championship. Along the way, of course, Hal falls for Ginny and undergoes some heartbreak when he learns her true motives. Like Juno, this film is a slice-of-high-school-life that almost always rings true, offering up teenagers who are really like the kids we work with every week. And best of all - the film doesn't tie up all the loose ends or follow some old formula like turning the nerd into a Prince Charming. The movie keeps it real, reminding us just how hard it is to be a teenager.