Saturday, 19 June 2010


Hopscotch Films
Exclusive to Palace Verona Sydney, Kino Cinemas Melbourne, Palace Barracks Brisbane

Jeffrey Blitz's feature directorial debut opens with such a flurry of indie tics, it threatens to implode under an abundance of quirkiness, but this odd little film soon settles into a rhythm and plot, of sorts. Our “hero”, Hal Hefner, despite the surname, is no playboy. He's an awkward junior high student rendered even more so by his stutter; Hal's resigned himself to eating the cafeteria fish at lunch instead of the preferred pizza simply because it's easier to say fish.

But then he's approached by Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick), captain of the school debate team, who sees the potential in the speech-impaired Hal. Hal, not convinced of Ginny's belief, is smitten and, despite all evidence to the contrary, joins the debate team.

The relationship between Hal and Ginny escalates but Blitz has more in mind than teen romance, the first sign being Ginny's shock defection to a rival school. Other plot lines involve Hal's tracking down of a former champion debater to aid in his revenge, surviving his bullying older brother, and a passive-aggressive proxy step brother, the son of a judge who is also a neighbour and begins dating Hal's mother.

The film's oddness and refusal to conform to genre may explain why it has taken so long to reach Australian cinemas (however limited a release it is receiving). Rocket Science screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, while the production notes, which the distributors hand out to media at screenings, make no mention in Kendrick's bio of her recurring role in the Twilight films or her Oscar-nominated performance in Up in the Air.

Still, whether on or not a film receives a cinema release has less to do with quality than it does with other factors, and Rocket Science has a more going for it than a lot of other big title releases which flood our cinemas this time of year.

I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to see it (of course, that's the only way you can), but if you have to choose between this and The A-Team, well, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know which one I'd opt for.

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