Rocket Science ★★★★

In a world post-Rushmore there's that inevitability where any school-set coming of age film earns immediate comparisons to Anderson's. This does more than enough to stand out from the shadow of that comedy giant and establish its own identity as a memorable take on how it feels to be young and frustrated with the complexities of the world around. It takes a while to get into its stride, but once it hits the right pace it never once falters and the laughs come quick and smart. I can't remember the last time I laughed aloud so many times while watching a movie by myself; it's a sign of just how effective the comedy here is, always a little oddball but rooted in the real awkwardness of teen life. Despite being just 5 years old it features a roster of now-familiar faces that look insanely young: Anna Kendrick; Vincent Piazza; Jonah Hill. The whole cast is fantastic, especially Kendrick and the lead Reece Thompson. It earns an added half star just for the beauty of its conclusion, taking an unexpected and absolutely perfect narrative turn that had me wanting to tip my hat to the screen (figuratively speaking, unfortunately I wasn't wearing a hat at the time).