Rocket Science

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Rocket Science Movie Poster Image
Debate-team teen comedy is clever, unpredictable.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A teen with a severe stutter joins the debate club and finds his voice. An overly competitive girl tries to sabotage a team's chances of winning.


Hal gets pounded by his angry brother; Hal throws a cello through a window.


Teen couples kiss; Hal and Ginny make out in a janitor's closet; Hal hears his mom having sex with a neighbor; Hal and his brother discuss oral sex and "bases." Illustrations from the Kama Sutra are shown.


Several instances of "the finger" and uses of words including "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "retard," etc.


Lincoln Town Car.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hal drinks a bottle of hard liquor and then does stupid things while very drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this quirky teen comedy is pretty mild for an R-rated film (think Rushmore rather than Superbad). It does include some language ("s--t," "ass," etc.), shots of teens kissing, a couple of conversations about sex, and one scene of the protagonist drinking, but for the most part it's a clever, unconventional teen flick that follows a misfit, stuttering guy who joins the school debate team.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJorjiboy1134 April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byHidalgo99 January 4, 2013

True to Life Teen Dramedy isn't for everybody

Rocket Science isn't your typical teen comedy. It defies your expectations up until the credits and is funny, sad, and real. Every teen can connect with... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson) isn't your typical high-school antihero. He's not an overachiever like Tracy Flint (Election) or Max Fischer (Rushmore). Nor is he an all-out nerd like Napoleon Dynamite. He's a disfluent (i.e. a severe stutterer) underdog who spends part of his day in special-needs therapy with a silent girl. On the bus one afternoon, a lovely girl named Ginny (Anna Kendrick) invites Hal to join the debate team, swearing that all of the "deformed" debaters rock, because they have something to prove. Hal finds Ginny's aura of success and self-confidence (not to mention sex appeal) intoxicating, so he gives debating a go, under Ginny's tutelage and the direction of the gung-ho coach (character actress Margo Martindale).

Is it any good?

With a few unexpected plot twists, writer-director Jeffrey Blitz admirably keeps ROCKET SCIENCE from devolving into Rocky-lite. Sometimes when the odds are stacked so high against a kid like Hal, no amount of hard work will end in victory. Sometimes it's the trying itself that's important.

Orbiting Hal on his surprising search for his voice -- to be a champion debater, you have to cram an astonishing amount of words into each second, not an easy feat for a stutterer -- are three other misfits: his agenda-keeping older brother (Vincent Piazza), his quietly closeted friend (Aaron Yoo), and Ginny's young peeping neighbor (Josh Kay). Each contributes to a couple of touching, humorous scenes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of "misfit" teen heroes, from Max Fischer in Rushmore to Napoleon Dynamite. What characteristics do these kinds of characters have in common? What characteristics do their movies have in common? Is it more fun to watch movies about this kind of teenager or more "mainstream" teens? Why? Who do you identify with more? Families can also discuss the Hefner parents' divorce and how it affects both boys.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love high school stories

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