Peter Reitzes, M.A., CCC-SLP, shares his comments on the new film Rocket Science not only as a speech pathologist, but also as a person who stutters. His insights may provide direction for those who want to see this film.
I saw Rocket Science and it is absolutely a wonderful movie. It really felt good and validating to see such a likable character as Hal (the high-schooler who stutters) struggle in all the same ways that I struggled in high school.
As far as being appropriate for teens, Rocket Science certainly touches on some difficult topics. Some of the people around Hal treat him as a broken person.
When I was in Hal’s shoes, I certainly felt broken as well. I am working now with a teen and I mentioned the film to the family. I was very careful to make it clear to the family that this movie could trigger some painful memories and feelings in their son. A teen may need support digesting this film. My buddy and I who went to see it were extremely moved by the film and really needed to talk about it afterwards. It is funny, beautiful and hard all at the same time.
One thing to keep in mind is that Rocket Science is not a perfect ending story. It presents stuttering as hard and it ends with Hal finding ways to challenge himself, but the stuttering is still hard.
Looking back at my teen years, I am not sure how I would have responded to seeing the movie because I was in such denial about my stuttering. However, I would have been able to relate to so much of the film because Hal used all of the “tricks” that I grew up using.
Hal is a very likable character. He is the good guy, the witty teen, funny, smart, with greatness waiting to burst out. A very touching movie.