Rocket Science

COMEDY; 1hr 41min

STARRING: Reece Daniel Thompson, Anna Kendrick

Taking sides: Thompson and Kendrick

“Can a voice travel from one person to another?” Hal Hefner (Thompson) asks himself with a wistful flicker of hope. A chronic, erratic stutterer (as if being a teenager in Plainsboro, New Jersey, weren’t hard enough), Hal is in sore need of a public voice other than his own. With separated parents (Lisbeth Bartlett and Denis O’Hare) and a bullying older brother (Vincent Piazza), he exists in shades of grey —  which is to say that in other people’s eyes, he barely exists at all. But Hal’s drab horizons are set to expand exponentially when fast-talking firecracker Ginny Ryerson (Kendrick) unaccountably recruits him as her high-school debating partner.


Quirky is so often a whisker’s width from twee, but writer-director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound ) gets the absurdity ratio just right here. Hal’s disability is frustrating and he suffers mightily because of it. Even so, the exploits of the Plainsboro High School crew owe a far greater debt to dead-straight eccentricity than to standard issue teen angst — and that can only be a fine and dandy thing.