Jeffrey Blitz (2002's SPELLBOUND) directs this comedy that follows in the footsteps of teen outsider indies such DONNIE DARKO, THUMBSUCKER, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, and RUSHMORE.
Set in New Jersey, the film follows Hal Hefner (impressive newcomer Reese Thompson) in his attempts to go through high school unnoticed. This is made considerably harder by his obvious stutter and inability to verbalize even the most basic statements, not to mention his thoughts and feelings.
Bringing him no help are his strange and abusive older brother Earl (Vincent Piazza), his recently divorced parents, his mother's live-in boyfriend, and his school's inadequate speech therapist.
When the school's bossy, attractive debate champion Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick) tries to recruit Hal as her debating partner, good sense tells him no but his hormones cry yes, and soon Hal finds himself confronted with growing feelings for Ginny as well as the looming humiliation of having to compete in the state finals.
ROCKET SCIENCE features a good cast of relative unknowns, who with the help of a solid script, convey the pangs of adolescent angst and the awkwardness of high school.
The film treads familiar territory but does so well, sticking to the story and not getting too caught up in style.
The film's soundtrack, which features songs from Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzelay, perfectly matches its indie pedigree.