Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rocket Science

Man, I love Netflix. You see, my queue is, like 40 movies long. I screw with the order regularly, but I make a fair effort to allow the little random movies I add to eventually make it to the top. In the best of cases, I no longer have any clue why I added it to my queue, nor do I have any idea what it's about (this works especially well when Netflix has no idea what the movie's about either, so they just make something up on the little description on the cover of the DVD slip).

I don't recall why I added Rocket Science to my queue. I guess it won best director in a drama at Sundance 2007, so I might have added it for that reason. Or, maybe some reviewer I admire put it in their top movies of the year. Or, maybe Netflix recommended it to me and I just clicked yes without thinking about it. It could be any of these. But, it doesn't really matter, since when it arrived, I put it in the PS3 and pressed play (truth be told, I was planning to put the other movie that came in today into the player, but that arrived in two pieces, which I found slightly disappointing).

Anyways, this was an awesome example of what indie high school comedies are capable of. It totally trounces Juno. And Charlie Bartlett. Although, I might have laughed more during those, this one was still better.

I wish I could describe the plot, but that kind of gives a lot of the fun away. But, well, the basic plot is that there is this really hot girl, and I don't mean like the hot girl that all the jocks are chasing, but the hot girl that commands the attention of all the lesser boys, you know, the hot girl who is way smarter than nearly everyone else and who absolutely knows it and will probably one day grow up to be a really, really hot bitch, but right now is still learning how, and this is totally off track but anyways, so this hot girl is the head of the debate team and she recruits a small and uncertain freshman with a stutter. A major stutter.

Needless to say, he only joins because he can't help but fall in love with her and the movie is the story of the journey he takes to prove himself to her. Except, this journey doesn't go anywhere near where it is supposed to go. That's why it's an indie movie, clearly.

It's full of weird, and rather depressing, characters and relationships. Personally, I'm not one to find comedy inherent in that stuff, especially since I pretty much just assume that's what New Jersey's like and that these characters aren't meant to be jokes (I mean, I know everyone makes fun of the place, so it seems reasonable, right?). To me, they're just decorations for watching the main character try to live his life.

His name is Hal. And his stutter is almost debilitating. And it's just touching to watch him try to communicate. To at least think himself full of ideas, but to be incapable of expressing them. How many ideas he actually has, I'm not so certain, but if you can't at least believe that you're worth listening to, then why should anyone else listen? So, as far as I'm concerned, believing you're full of ideas is a good enough reason to try to communicate with others (it doesn't mean it's a good reason for others to listen to you, just for the record, and I'm sure this blog is an excellent case in point).

Especially, though, I like how he is watching all these broken/breaking relationships around him and he's desperately trying to believe that there is even a possibility that his love has a chance. Or if the pain that he's gone through is for nothing. There's a great moment when someone asks him why he's doing it and his first response is love. Then, after a second's thought, he adds, "Or revenge, I'm not actually sure which". Because, they're not that different to him. Revenge simply seems to be what follows love in his world.

I also liked the older, cool mentor character. Surprisingly, it's actually Claire's boy toy from season two of Heroes, but this time I don't hate him. I imagine that it helps that he can't fly. Also, I appreciate that he isn't playing this lame, judgmental outcast character. Instead, he's playing a dude who burned out and is just letting life pass him by now. I don't think he misses what he had, but he still welcomes the chance to get to play in the little world of high school debating one more time. I might have liked his character to get a little more resolution, but this is an indie movie, so resolution isn't supposed to be expected or required. Still, though, it would have been nice to at least see a hint that he was ready to start moving his life forward, but no, it looks like he'll continue his work at the dry cleaners.

I also really liked just how emotionally invested I got in the movie. When Hal stands up to make his arguments and starts singing them to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, I was standing up and cheering him on. Laughing and almost crying with pride for him. It was a truly great moment and the emotional climax of the movie. I loved it.

Lastly, this movie had one of the most awesome lines ever. So, after preparing arguments about public schools teaching abstinence, he tells the really hot girl's mom to tell her daughter "that he's done with masturbation and ready to show her his progress when she gets the chance". That won a lot of points with me too.

Anyways, the movie was really awesome. I had not expected it to be nearly this good. I admit that it starts off slow, but it built to something much greater than was reasonable to expect. Also, the kid was really good. I hope to see him in more stuff. Not to mention the girl, I wouldn't mind seeing her in more stuff too.

That is all.


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