Coming of age in Plainsboro, New Jersey. High school student Hal Hefner stutters. On the evening his parents stop arguing and separate, 43 miles away at the state tournament, his school's legendary debater, Ben Wekselbaum, goes blank mid-sentence, Ben's teammate Ginny Ryerson doesn't get a first-place trophy, and the world changes. That fall, to Hal's amazement, Ginny recruits him for the debate team, mentors him, and will be his partner. He still has his stutter, but he works hard and he falls in love with Ginny. On the day of the first debate of the season, the world changes again. From then until the day of the state tournament, Hal has a lot to sort out. Is love rocket science?Written by
Plainsboro shares two high schools with West Windsor, and therefore no Plainsboro High School exists in New Jersey. See more »
After the disqualification, the outline of a body microphone pack can be seen through Hal's sport coat (rear waistband). See more »
And if you don't know how farming subsidies could inspire all this commotion then you don't know life and there's nothing to be said about it. Suitcases end marriages and farming subsidies launch cataclysms.
See more »
Written by Daniel Indart
Performed by Inya Herrera See more »
best Asian American movie I've seen this year
Seriously. I have to agree with the writer of the review at the top of the string of reviews. There's insight and brilliance in the script and in the direction. Movies about high school kids will draw comparisons to all the high school films that preceded it, from Hughes to Apatow. Americans, we take our high school years very seriously...especially after we graduate. And we all have our favorite movies that deal with those four years of our lives (mine: "Donnie Darko," "Rushmore," and "Election"). Given time, I think "Rocket Science" will settle somewhere between "Election" and "Napolean Dynamite," for me.
"Rocket Science" is unique if you're willing to look beyond the surface similarities. Yes, this movie has a young protagonist who wants to overcome the odds to get the girl, with the help of friends, with interference from an antagonistic sibling, and parents who just don't seem to understand. That's practically a classical form by now. Euripides could fill in that outline.
Already, there are 4 pages of reviews and I can only add this: the roles of the Asian Americans that writer and director Jeffrey Blitz carved out deserve comment. And that comment is: sweet! Astonishing, really. Someone mentioned "Juno" in these reviews and how "Rocket Science" achieved where "Juno" may have fell short. I skipped "Juno" but listened to at least three separate discussions on public radio and on the local AM stations about the Chinese-baby line used in the promotions. I understand that, in the context of the movie, it wasn't so bad. Nothing nearly that clumsy in "Rocket Science."
Two Asian American actors get speaking roles and their lines are often hilarious: Stephen Park as Judge Pete who is jovial for no good reason and Aaron Yoo as his son, Heston, who crosses that line from admiring muscly dudes to really admiring them. The roles are clearly written as Asian American roles. In fact, father and son are identified, specifically, as Korean American, highlighted by Judge Pete's wailing of "ummah" in a scene where the judge is not so jovial. Blitz does wonderful work in identifying the characters as Asian American while not announcing their scenes as "The Asian Scenes." The jokes come, but not at their expense. There's a funny line about the casserole they bring to dinner which I won't spoil for those who haven't seen the movie yet. The exchange says more about the mother, aptly played by Lisbeth Bartlett, and her appetite for the exotic than the Asian-ness of her guests.
Later in the film, the protagonist and Heston pair up in a speech competition, and employing a technique suggested by his school counselor to quell the stammer, Hal decides to affect an accent. The scene is brilliantly written, directed and edited. The last time I was surprised by how loud I laughed in a movie was when Bart had a full-frontal scene in "The Simpsons." There's also a scene with that same counselor speaking from home to Hal on the phone. There is a shot that includes his significant other who is Asian. It's uncanny (or is it uncannily canny). The casting: she's a good looking woman and, by most measures, he did better than his station or his looks. The composition: she is positioned in a way that suggests detachment and self-absorption, showing no interest in the conversation. She's in a bathrobe, trimming her toenails (or something similar) on the couch, displaying a level of comfort, in particular with her body, many Asians would find immodest and not-so-classy. A director with less skill would have had any Asian actress fiddling around in the background. Jeffrey Blitz creates something as precise as something Wes Anderson put on film, without the elements becoming ornamental.
Yes, there are jokes in "Rocket Science," but it's not the joke-gag-joke rabbit punches of Apatow and his bunch and none of that numbing repetitive dissonance of their adult language spoken by what we're supposed to believe are goofy high school kids. They write as if they are haunted by moments from their high school years in which they could have uttered something clever and snappy but the words came only after dinner. Another memorable scene in "Rocket Science:" Hal visits the principal's office at a private school, and while he waits there, he discusses 2nd base with a girl that could be a delinquent. The girl's final remark is hilarious. And you believe it is something that could be said by a girl who was sent to the principal's office.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this