Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rocket Science

Last night, I took time off from editing (which I shouldn't have done) to go see a movie. I was going to take my wife to go see Sicko since she hadn't seen it but we were too late, so we saw Rocket Science instead.

Rocket Science is Jeffrey Blitz' narrative feature follow up to his amazing documentary Spellbound.

Rocket Science follows chronic stutterer Hal Hefner and his adventures after joining his high school debate team. He quickly falls in love with his much better debate partner, but she betrays him and switches schools, so he sets out for revenge.

This film was like a lightning bolt to my brain in one respect: I finally understand films about high school sports. Watching people compete in events you did is tremendously exhilarating and makes you pine for those glory days. I was a policy debater and I'm not bragging when I say I was at least pretty good, I know a few people that might be willing to vouch for that. Debate was one of the very few things I cared about in high school, so this film accomplished quite a bit with me in forcing me to reminisce about my days in competition. Afterwards, I really felt like I could go back and compete in another round, just one more, for old times sake.

But the film itself is fairly standard. I know it seems like I compare a lot of films to Squid and the Whale, but this film is beat for beat like Squid and the Whale with dashes of The Royal Tenenbaums (replete with a character named Wekselbaum and a narrator that sounds a lot like a lower cost Alec Baldwin.)

The film has moments that were very funny, but not as consistently as a Noah Baumbach or Wes Anderson film. I also felt like to appreciate a lot of the jokes, you had to have been a policy debater (but some of those jokes were the best, particularly the resolution and the sub-text it offers the film: Resolved: That the Federal government should teach abstinence only in school.)

The biggest let-down for me though was the fact that the ending was anti-climactic. I wanted to see a world class showdown of a policy debate, but there isn't one. It would be like a high school football movie where the team trains for the whole film for the state football playoffs and they don't get to play and nothing that was set up for the tournament was resolved. I wouldn't have minded seeing the lead characters I was rooting for lose, so long as I got to see a kick ass round of policy.

I felt that aside from that, the script was fairly solid, it was just too dependent on someone else's style. That being said, it was a competent ape of that style and I would be excited to see the next film Blitz comes out with.

I also want to write about my debate experiences now.

I've got some pretty good stories....

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