So much of a film is not only the story that it tells, but how it tells it. The authenticity of the voice is such an important aspect of the film. The film Rocket Science is a unique story about finding that voice. It sounds like such a cliche and the whole concept of “finding one’s voice” is so abstract, but quite literally it’s about a kid who stutters and his foray into the world of high school debate.
It’s one of those things that’s so difficult for me to describe because it can most simply be described as a coming-of-age story, but those types of tales tend to lend themselves towards melodrama. Rocket Science has such a potent mixture of angst, drama, and the dark comedy that seems so much a part of one’s teenage years. There’s such a strong understanding of the characters that writer/director Jeffrey Blitz has brought to life. Especially in the genre of the “high school film” it’s easy to stereotype and to create caricatures, but there’s such dimension and complexity to even the smallest players in the movie that to label it seems completely unfair.
As previously stated, this thanks largely in part to Jeffrey Blitz, who previously directed the documentary Spellbound. A fair portion of the material, or at least the premise, is based on Blitz’s own life so it’s understandable how he can be so thorough with his characters. However, this shouldn’t be mistaken as a self-laudatory semi-autobiographical film. I only mention Blitz’s own life as evidence of his commitment and familiarity with the story to create such interesting characters and to give strength to a voice that truly resonates.
However, as with any movie, the credit doesn’t lie only with the director, but the incredible cast that’s been assembled for the project. Rocket Science is certainly no exception. Reece Thompson plays the stuttering protagonist. His ability to play up with the comedic aspects of the film with equal parts emotional sincerity and the heartbreaking reality of adolescence and young love is incredible. The character is so thoroughly realized that it’s hard to believe that it’s only an actor playing a part. However, another brilliant addition to the cast is Anna Kendrick, who most people may know from the Twilight movies or her Oscar-nominated role in Up in the Air. She brings the same offbeat charm that makes her so watchable in these other roles, but with a hardened cynicism about her that should be alienating but manages not to be. Even the smaller roles are handled with such depth, which is so unusual for most movies these days.
In the end, Rocket Science is a beautifully acted character piece well-worth examining. It manages to articulate the complex emotions so many of us struggled with in our own adolescence. Most importantly, it’s a movie about finding your voice. It manages to avoid cliches and condescension, making it a charming, yet equally heartbreaking, film about one young man finding the words to say for the first time.