Rocket Science

September 28th, 2007


Rocket Science

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Still of Reece Thompson in Rocket ScienceStill of Reece Thompson in Rocket ScienceFrank Whaley and Heather Bucha at event of Rocket ScienceStill of Lisbeth Bartlett in Rocket ScienceStill of Reece Thompson in Rocket ScienceStill of Reece Thompson in Rocket Science

Looking for answers to life's big questions, a stuttering boy joins his high school debate team.

Release Year: 2007

Rating: 6.7/10 (8,087 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Stars: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto

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?

Nicholas D'Agosto - Ben Wekselbaum
Anna Kendrick - Ginny Ryerson
Utkarsh Ambudkar - Ram
Candace Scholz - Townsend Prep Debater (as Candace Burr Scholz)
Margo Martindale - Coach Lumbly
Reece Thompson - Hal Hefner (as Reece Daniel Thompson)
Vincent Piazza - Earl Hefner
Denis O'Hare - Doyle Hefner
Lisbeth Bartlett - Juliet Hefner
Aaron Yoo - Heston
Virginia House - English Teacher (as Virginia Frank)
Marilyn Yoblick - Plainsboro Lunch Lady
Maury Ginsberg - Mr. Lewinsky
Emily Ginnona - Honoria
Dionne Audain - Abraham Lincoln

Taglines: Life is easier done than said.


Official Website: Official site |

Release Date: 28 September 2007

Filming Locations: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $58,536 (USA) (12 August 2007) (6 Screens)

Gross: $712,391 (USA) (21 October 2007)

Technical Specs


Crew or equipment visible: After the disqualification, the outline of a body microphone pack can be seen through Hal's sport coat (rear waistband).

Hal Hefner: That's god doing your dry cleaning.
Hal Hefner: God does dry cleaning. He wears a smock.

User Review

A Neurotic Anti-Love Story

Rating: 10/10

This film is simply astounding, in my opinion. The acting is top notch as well as the soundtrack, writing, editing, and photography.

I'll start with the general story:

Hal Heffner (Reece Thompson) is just an ordinary , no frills high-school kid who happens to have a severe stutter. He has a some-what broken home life, living with his older, bullying, thief of a brother, Earl (Vincent Piazza). Their parents don't get along so well... Hal has a difficult time dealing with his stutter in school as well as general daily life. He is especially shy. Well... Hal is approached by the school Debate Team Star, Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick) and she entices Hal into joining the Plainsboro High Debate Team. Hal develops a fondness for Ginny and desperately attempts to be closer with her. Hilarity Ensues...

The Acting in this film is nothing but astonishing. Reece does an incredible job of balancing his lines and creating a very convincing stuttering problem. Not only this, but the jokes he has to carry out are low-key and very natural. The very impressive fast-paced and garbled speech that Anna and Nicholas D'Agosto (Ben in the film), as well as the other debaters in the film have to employ is incredible. According to Jeff Blitz, real debaters speak faster, but the Actors/Actresses had to slow their speech so that everything was intelligible. Every player in this film speaks so naturally and fluently that the jokes are not obvious. They require thought, despite their beautiful simplicity. If you know Wes Anderson films, you know what I am talking about.

Speaking of the Writing, it is, once again, amazing. The love story that this film illustrates is a very different type of love story. It takes the genre and flips it upside-down at every turn. This trend also emanates in all other facets of the film as well. Just when your mind thinks one thing is going to happen, something unexpected happens. This film is very unpredictable, which is very nice as this film does not follow the fairy tales that are so common in film today.

Rocket Science is also just beautiful looking. The film was made predominately in the Baltimore Area. The crew did a most convincing job of turning South East Baltimore into Trenton, NJ and turning the suburbs of MD into those of NJ. As a Dundalk resident myself, I can testify.

The editing is also innovative in that it employed its fitting soundtrack into the cutting. The music will fire up to match the sequence and then pause to let a key moment carry itself out, and then pick up right where it left off. Speaking of the music, The Violent Femmes are all over the place and their songs of Love Angst match perfectly with the entire flow and story of the film.

All in all, this film was a most enjoyable experience. The laughs I had are unforgettable and the emotions that I felt watching Hal chase his dreams really tapped into me. Its a realistic film with a slight neurotic sitcom twist to it. Jeff Blitz is simply brilliant and it shows in this work. Reese has a most bright future and will be fully discovered once this film hits.

For a truly uplifting, however, realistic experience that will certainly make you laugh and impress as well, go see Rocket Science when it releases on August 10th.

-Daniel J. Carlin-Weber


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