Tuesday, June 05, 2007

BIFF #2 - It's Not --ah-- Rocket Science

Just two days after my first SIFF experience, I was back in the saddle for Rocket Science. My personal motto is that it's not a party until someone gets sick, so I'm pretty sure I had an AWESOME time.

Before the movie, the Pie Pals convened at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for Happy Hour. I can't think of a more awkward name for a restaurant, but the unofficial (i.e. possibly made up) story is that Ruth was some sort of steak wizard who operated "Ruth's Steakhouse", the most amazing steakhouse in all the land. At the time of her death, her son Chris took over and changed the name to "Chris's Steakhouse". Much to his dismay, everyone was like, "Who the hell is Chris, and why do we want to eat his steak?" Ultimately, he clarified by calling it "Ruth's Chris", and we all dined happily ever after.

This shaky rendition of the restaurant's history is at least slightly more credible than the theory that it was named after Chris North (sic)- the kid who played Dennis the Menace. (I met a woman who was wholly convinced of this!) Regardless of the weird name, the food is pretty fabulous.

We felt very Sex in the City as we sipped our Cosmopolitans, so we worked out which characters we'd be if we were actually on the show. Since their were four of us, it was perfect. Turns out I'm Charlotte, and Linda Moviepie is Miranda. We raised our glasses to Christopher Plummer (whose movie we were missing), then headed over to the theater looking exactly like this:

...you know, more or less.

After finding our seats, Linda was spotted by her friend, and I had the pleasure of meeting a real live Moviepie reader - Shehrry Bobbins of Dutch Dooley fame! (Yay, Shehrry! Thanks for reading!) And then...the movie started!

Rocket Science (7/8) is the delightfully quirky tale of Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson), a high school student with a crippling stutter. Just trying to tell the lunch lady that he prefers pizza over the "general fish" is pure torture, but like so many of us, Hal is "full of retorts". When debate champion Ginny (Anna Kendrick) recruits him for the team, it looks like Hal will finally have a chance to express himself...except that his stutter isn't really getting any better, and she never gives him a chance to talk. Is the girl of his dreams just using him to advance her own quest for world domination?

Hal's world is complicated and confusing, but it seems to him that life shouldn't be rocket science. His father leaves because his mother is difficult, and she quickly takes up with the father of one of Hal's Korean classmates. Awkwardness ensues as the lovebirds force their children to endure their embarrassing displays of affection. Hal's brother is a greasy moron who only calls him by girl's names, and none of this is made any easier by his stutter. Even the special needs counselor at school is of little use - "I just wish you were hyperactive. I'm great with hyperactivity!"

The movie is full of witty lines and interesting characters, but my favorite is Ginny's freaky neighbor boy. He's particularly hilarious as he tells Hal to get off his street.

"It's public property," yells Hal.

"We'll see," growls Freaky Neighbor Boy.

We'll see?! Is that not the most brilliant comeback in all the world? You'd have to use it in the most inarguable and clear-cut of situations, but just think - your landlord tells you your rent is due on Friday: "We'll see!" Ha ha!

Despite the fact that I developed what I call a Bucket Headache (not to be confused with a Buckethead Ache which is caused by listening to the music of Buckethead) I loved every second of the movie. Thanks to sudden dips in the local barometer, I've been getting a lot of Bucket Headaches lately i.e. sinus headaches so powerful that you'd like to unscrew your head and carry it in a bucket. At a certain point my mouth actually started watering and I had the terrible feeling I was going to hurl. Oh no! What if I have to make a run for the lobby? What if I don't make it?! Do I throw up in my purse? Will the whole audience notice, even though it's so dark in here?

I did my best to stifle these terrible thoughts, and thankfully the feeling passed without incident. I treated my Bucket Headache successfully once I made it home, and when I was safely curled up on the couch, I remembered my own words:

It's not a party til someone gets sick!

And I knew I'd been to a party indeed.

Incidentally, Rocket Science has been picked up by a distributor, and should soon be coming to a theater near you. If you're a fan of movies like Rushmore, if (like me) you think stuttering is the most endearing thing in the world, or if you just want to see a funny, well-written movie, be sure to check it out. And if you're prone to Bucket Headaches, don't forget the Sudafed!


Linda said...

I have to say, I loved Rocket Science as well! I'd give it 7/8... i.e. the best narrative feature I've seen thus far at the fest. Its humor was goofy and quirky, but not mean; sharply written, but not cruel. Good stuff! Luckily for everyone, it looks like it is getting released in July!

Linda said...

Oh, and Jennifer, we looked SOOOO Sex and the City leaving Ruth's Chris! I just needed that visual to confirm it. ;-)

Shehrry_Bobbins said...

Aw, thanks for including me in the review! You were so nice, I couldn't even tell you had that Bucket Headache! :)

I dunno if Linda told you, but what ruined this otherwise-sweet movie for me was the bumbling hairy fool that I assume is supposed to be the speech-language pathologist. (For the record, I am an SLP.) He tells Hal, "Gee, I'm just not an expert in stuttering. I wish you were hyperactive, because I'm great at treating hyperactivity." He leads Hal through these ridiculous breathing exercises and tells him that it's impossible to stutter while whispering or faking a foreign accent.

I realize this was played for laughs, but I promise you that there is no one like that in the entire world. There are actually real treatments for stuttering. OK, I'm taking it seriously, but I kinda have to. I was, as Linda put it, "chapped." So I angrily downgraded my would-have-been- at-least-a-3 vote to a 2 (out of 5).

There, I said it.

Shehrry Bobbins

Shehrry_Bobbins said...

Oh, and the Dennis the Menance kid is *Jay* North.

Bow before the mighty inaccuracy corrector!!