This movie got decent reviews (a solid 84% on the Tomatometer). It had a decent number of laughs throughout. (Such is my insensitivity to such matters, I'm not sure if I was supposed to laugh at some of those things. Nevertheless …)
The protagonist is young teen Hal Hefner, who's got a number of strikes against him. He's got a mean speech impediment, which causes him to stutter, not on individual words—he's fine with those—but on whole phrases, which he can't seem to connect all the way through to a complete thought. His mom and dad have split up, and mom's now dating an Asian-American small-claims court judge. His brother, a proud thief of items small and smaller, calls him various girls' names.
And he lives in Plainsboro, New Jersey. Which, I see from Google Maps, is just the other side of US Route 1 from Princeton, but might as well be on the other side of the galaxy for Hal.
Things begin to change when brash, well-spoken Ginny recruits Hal to be her extremely unlikely partner on the high school debate team. She aims to win the state tournament, an honor previously denied her when her debate superstar partner froze up at the podium the previous year.
Now all this is fine, but I began to feel about halfway through that I was being manipulated by the movie as surely as the most formulaic explosion-sodden action flick. Maybe the IMDB's keywords will help a little:
* Middle Finger * Stuttering * Intercom * Teen * Father * Debate * Bra * High School * Dinner * Bus Stop * Cruelty * City * Theft * Nose Bleed * Erotic Fantasy * Private School * Drunk * Older Brother * Practice * Prep School * Interracial Relationship * Closet * Kama Sutra * Public School * Obscene Gesture * Broken Window * Library * Quiet * Agreement * Coming Of Age * Advice * Battle Hymn Of The Republic * Ex Lover * Love * Father Son Relationship * Accent * Locket * Bow Tie * Tournament * Pizza * New Jersey * Cello * Whiskey * Fish * Loser * Sex Education * Bus * Aardvark * Suburb * Brother Brother * Judge * Motto * High School Love * Shore * Cowboys And Indians * Revenge * Relaxation Exercise * School Bus * Separation * Heartbreak * Brother * Angry Wife * Blow Job * Philosophy * Girl * Cleavage * Angry People * Team * Narrator * Inept Teacher * Sex With Animal * Funny Accent * Abstinence * Brother Brother Relationship * Telephone Call * Winner * Snow * Office * Trophy * Ghost * Conversation * Phone Call * Garbage * Cell Phone * Legend * High School Teacher * Singing * Alcohol * Son * Song * Kiss * Banjo * Breathing * Boy * Bath * Teen Drinking * Stutter * Heartache * Marital Separation * Speech * Mom * Winning * Mother * Special Education * Marital Strife * First Place * Spring * Whispering * Fake Accent * Marital Problem * Teenage Sex * Stolen * Cowboy Hat * Making Out * Big City * Lunch Room * Masturbation * Suitcase * Trenton New Jersey * Wading * Window * Bicycle * Divorce * Teacher * Toothbrush * Boutonnière * Mascot * Marriage Problems * Dry Cleaners * Marital TroubleYeah, that's kind of a lot of stuff to fit into one small movie. It's as if the filmmakers didn't have quite enough faith in their basic story, so they just kept sticking in little plot doodads, until they got it out to movie length.
The movie also seems to wear quirkiness on its sleeve, which I found a tad annoying. Still, it's not the worst movie you'll ever see.