Rocket Science Script - Dialogue Transcript

Voila! Finally, the Rocket Science script is here for all you fans of the Anna Kendrick debate team movie. This puppy is a transcript that was painstakingly transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of the movie to get the dialogue. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and all that jazz, so if you have any corrections, feel free to drop me a line. At least you'll have some Rocket Science quotes (or even a monologue or two) to annoy your coworkers with in the meantime, right?

And swing on back to Drew's Script-O-Rama afterwards -- because reading is good for your noodle. Better than Farmville, anyway.

Rocket Science Script

Testing, testing.

Significance, harms, inherency,
topicality, solvency.

Quiet, please.
Cell phones off, please.

Judges ready?

Timer ready?

The Affirmative
will please begin.

It will come as no
surprise to the judges,

our esteemed opponents from
Townsend Prep,

nor really to anyone at all

in the audience that we,
the Affirmative from Plainsboro High,

do hereby support this year's
National Policy Debate Resolution,

which I am supposed to recite now,
as if after an entire school year

it could still somehow
be unknown to any of us.

That is ridiculous. Therefore,
instead of senselessly repeating it,

I will offer up a moment of silence
during which I'd like every one of you

to say the resolution aloud. It will be
a final communal act for all of us,

the High School Policy Debaters
of New Jersey. Ready, set, go.


For those of you who aren't
done, I apologize,

but there's a reason why
I'm up here and you're down there,

and if you please, right now,
we're going to go at my pace.

Hang on if you can.

Our plan today is succinct. Only
by becoming a fully socialist regime,

will the United States government
ever emerge as the true moral leader

of the free world, and thus
create a lasting peace.

Therefore we support an amendment
to the Constitution of the United States

to outlaw all political parties
that do not embrace socialism

as their core philosophy.

On the stage of
the New Jersey State

High School Policy
Debate Championships

that spring night
stood Ben Wekselbaum

of Plainsboro High.

To anyone
who ever heard Ben debate

there was one thing
that was undeniable:

he had a voice.

Even then,
on that May night,

a real voice.

You're all wondering,
"When on earth

is he going to get to
farming subsidies?"

At long last the link to farming,
which is no doubt obvious by now,

agricultural societies collapse under
capitalism and thrive under socialism.

And agriculture has always
been a necessary industry.

- Without agriculture...
- As Ben Wekselbaum

set out the complexities
of their plan,

his partner
was biding her time,

picturing how
it would look up there...

the only trophy missing from her
crowded, gleaming shelf.

One team on the Affirmative,
arguing for the resolution.

The other on the Negative,
tearing it down.

This year's national resolution

is specifically about farming subsidies,
not socialism.

By overstepping the resolution, they
haven't met their prima fascie burden

to defend said resolution and
should be considered untopical.

Subsidies are at their heart an
extension of socialism...

that's from Gutierrez, '03.

That the negative team
has no legitimate arguments

against socialism isn't our fault.

They didn't penetrate the subject
as deeply as they should have.

To suggest that we haven't
refuted the very basis of socialism

is fallacious and specious.

I refer you again to the quotes
my partner read regarding...

And so it goes.
The high school debate,

like the war that rips through your city
and ravages everything in its path;

Kids wielding words like weapons
and brandishing ideas like axes.

Nothing else mattered
in that final round.

There was no world
beyond it.

Except that 46 miles away

Hal Hefner was at home...
just sitting at home

like nothing
or none of New Jersey

was burning around him.

We're gonna have to
break up the set.

What am I gonna do?
Put it all in a garbage bag?

My stuff's not gonna
fit in a garbage bag.

- Yeah, put it in a garbage bag!
- Here, keep the deodorant.

Why don't you go down to the basement?
There's another set down there.

Quit slamming the drawers.

- Oh, come on!
- You're gonna break the drawers.

Give me a break. I'm taking this.
I hope you don't mind,

because you took
everything else of mine.

On that May night Hal Hefner
had hardly a voice at all.


...could you not do that? Because I may
have to come back and get some stuff.

- See ya.
- No, no.

Don't take that bag.

Hey, Hal.
Earl, I'm...

I'm taking these. I'm not
going to be living here anymore

and that's why I'm
taking the suitcases.

Just leave the big
bag with the rest of the set.

Lord, this is so you!

Here's your suitcase.

You guys are going
to be all right.

And I'll...

I'll see you
sometime soon.

I don't know
what else to say.

I can't put it into words.

Back on the stage of
the State Championships

the night at last
revealed itself

as not just any night,

but as the night,
the night when it all began.

Ben Wekselbaum, the best voice
to ever debate for PHS,

Plainsboro High,

according to anyone
who ever heard him...

that Ben Wekselbaum,

he just went quiet.

Our next advantage basically says
that human relations can only thrive

in an atmosphere
of total equality.

That human relations
can only exist...

Sorry, I just said that.

Wait, wait, wait.


46 miles apart,
at the very same moment,

all the arguments

So there was this bridge
of silence spanning New Jersey.

No shouting
from Hal's parents,

no debating, no voice.

No one's voice at all.

That year's National Debate
topic was farming subsidies.

And if you don't know
how farming subsidies

could inspire all this commotion,

then you don't know life

and there's nothing
that can be said about it.

Suitcases end marriages and
farming subsidies launch cataclysms.

Can a voice travel
from one person to another,

like yawning or mono?

Sure it can.
That's our position:

That the will to speak
traveled that night

across the dark
New Jersey highways

until it arrived
on this very block,

where it would
take up residence,

or try to,
in someone new.

Gladys, let's go!

Timeliness is
an important part of it.

- Heston.
- Earl.

I'll just have the...
just the...

just the...
just the...

just the pizza,

Thank you.

What kind of a name
is O. Henry?

Not a pseudonym,
that we all know;


How about
nom de plume?

Does nom de plume
sound right?

It sounds right to me.
It was toward the end of the reading

that no one seems
to have completed.

Open your books
to page 248.

Let's do the reading that should
have been done last night.

Fish or pizza?

Yeah, I'll have the pizza.

Fish or pizza?

I'll have the...

The pizza's plain or pep.

Fish is... not sure.

Like general fish.

Yeah, I'll have the...

the... the...

the, uh...

the... not...
not the...

I'll just... just...

- just...
- The fish?

The general fish...


Come back for seconds.
Plenty left.

Thank you, ma'am.

- Fish or pizza?
- Pizza.

Do you want to keep on
trying the breathing exercises,

or something new?

Is it all right
if l... if I

don't have an opinion?

Let's try this.

I read in this journal,

"Clinical Pathways
to Speech Pathology,"

that it's hard
to be anything but fluent

when you whisper
or sing.

I sent away for a videotape
of some people trying that out.

Not a solution,

but wanna give it
a shot?

I can't... I can't...
I can't...

I can't do this.

Isn't this
too stupid, Honoria?

Even for Honoria.

This is too stupid.
I can just feel it.

I explained this, Hal,
that this is not my specialty.

I'm sorry, I'm trying.

It's really a shame
that you're not hyperactive,

because that I know well.

And that I can
work miracles with...



back to breathing.


Good, come on.

It was 1858,

and while Senator Stephen Douglas
set out his case

that states ought to choose
whether to allow slavery,

Abraham Lincoln consulted

with the smart
citizens of Illinois

to plot his answer.

Lincoln's a chick.

Let me find now a citizen

to assist me in coming up
with arguments

against Senator Douglas.

Where can I find
such a citizen helper?

The commoner in the
striped plum-colored shirt...

we need you, sir.

Rise to your duty.

- Come on!
- Get up there.

My assistant has come
to offer me arguments

in my debate
against the Senator.

Now I'm quaking.

What cannot a house
divided against itself do?

It is this argument
that will lead me to victory.

What cannot it do?


it... it...

Hold it further away
from your mouth.

What cannot
a house divided do?

It can't...

can't st...

can't... can't...

Mr. President...

a house divided can't...

Some help
from the citizenry.

It can't stand.

I thought it would
shit itself.

Thank you.

How about a round of applause
for the good commoner?

Ladies and gentlemen,
the silence

with which you have listened to
Mr. Lincoln during his hour...

You look taller onstage.


Agnes. Agnes.


I'm trying
not to listen, okay?

Distinctly not to... you're like
one foot away, so just...

Do you wanna
hear your problem?

You've no agenda.

Strictly head-in-
the-ground material.

Look at me.
Look at me.

I wake up every morning
and what do I do?

I create an agenda
for the day,

which is a sub-agenda
for the month,

which is in itself
a pie sl...

which is in itself
a pie slice

of my agenda
for life.

Do you want to hear
my purpose for today?

l... uh, l...

l... l...
I can assure you

that I absolutely
do not.

Probably call the cops
on me anyway.

Hey, Adolf,
switch with me.


This is my seat.

Like all seats
on this vehicle,

yours has been paid
for with taxpayer money.

Which means that I
or anyone else

has just as much right
to it as you do.

In fact, given
the distinction

between what your family
surely pays in taxes and mine,

I think it's safe to say the seat
is substantially more mine than yours.

Do you see now?

I'll be taking just a minute to talk
to the little man,

and then you can go on borrowing
my seat for as long as you like

until I want it again,

Coach Lumbly,
with the pilgrim hat,

she teaches patterns
of adult living.

She's on her third husband,
name of Wallace Lumbly. Wallace III.

It's a particular pattern she
doesn't lecture us on in class.

Anyway, she came up to me after
a presentation on egalitarianism

and said that although my argumentative
skills were at the fetal stage,

she sensed, somehow she
intuited my potential

and she invited me
on the team.

So now here I am two years later
doing the same thing with you...


ferreting out the debating
talent from the masses.

That's you.

I've ferreted you.

You mean...
you mean

public speaking?
Like, speaking...

in public?

No, I don't think that's...
that's not... that's not very...

Resolved that
the federal government

should support the
teaching of abstinence

in public schools...
from sex.

It's a big step up
from farming.

That was last year's

Yeah, I know.

Suit yourself.

But deformed people
are the best.

Maybe it's because they
have a deep resource of anger.

It serves them well.

Were you trying
to say thank you?

I thought you might be
stuck trying to say thank you.

You're welcome.

I'm sure this is
awkward for the boys.

Not one bit.
Not one single bit.

I swear I'm more nervous
than anyone.

Honestly, Jules,
I'm a small-claims judge.

It's lucky I'm not dating
someone from Trenton.

Is this a traditional
Korean dish?

Because it has an
exotic odor.

Uh, that's
tuna casserole.

Use your finger!

Shut up!

My dad hasn't dated anyone
before your mom for six years.

Can, uh...

can we just
not talk about that?

I got this by
a tree stump in the park.

Look at this one.


Then on Thursday...

it could have been
any day but it wasn't;

it was Thursday...

for no good reason,
something happened.

And it was like a little wave
breaking over him.

Take aim...

And it said the name



The wave said
the name Ginny.

Over and over.

- Ginny, Ginny, Ginny...
- Fire!

Zero points, Hal Hefner.


The etymology of the word
spreading is unclear

but we believe it to be
a blending together

of speed and reading,

All it is is jamming as many arguments
into your time as you humanly can.

Here we go... the effects
of early sexual relations

include transition of diseases,
out-of-wedlock pregnancies

and a host of potential

a host of potential illnesses
including depression

and low self-esteem.
Consider contention one earlier.

Participation in the program is 53%
more likely to yield positive results.

You know, the other thing
that I wanted to tell you

is that you even look
like this guy I used to debate with...

in a shorter,
goofier kind of way.

And what would you be doing
here looking enough like this guy

if it wasn't for me to discover you
and what talents are hidden within?



Resolved that Hal Hefner should
really stop letting the world

tell him what's possible and try
and figure it out for himself.

Maybe that's a
life's philosophy

suited just to some of
us who cherish winning.

So maybe it's not for you,
but I think that it is.

The quality of life among
teens who refrain...

Before this,

there was the nothingness
of Plainsboro, New Jersey.

But now Hal Hefner suddenly
had only one thought.

And it felt like all his life his brain
had been waiting for this thought,

so comfortably now
did it fit in

and take up
all the room there was.

You're on
my street.

You're still on
my street.

Do you... do you have
any idea what public property is?

We'll see.

My mom, Fern, says
it's public property,

and if it's okay with your mom
you can come have 7-Up with me,

but the icemaker's
busted, so...


You want to sit down
and listen to an old couple

work on their marriage
through some music therapy?

I'm upstairs!

Uh, uh...

uh, no thanks.
Not... not... not today.

I have a request in for binoculars
for my 12th birthday, so...

we'll see about that.

- Yeah.
- Yeah.

Who, uh...

who is that?

Beats me. Hey, do you know
if she wears a bra?

Wanna see a bra?

Yeah, uh... I should...
I should really...

I should... should...

I should really probably
go home now, Lewis.


Uh, Judge Pete?

Judge Pete?
Your Honor?

- Hm?
- Do you...

know any, uh,
do you know any lawyers...

great lawyers who
can't talk very well?

Not... not fluent,
but yet great lawyers

whose clients don't end
up getting the chair?


Oh, there's a bailiff with
a prosthetic leg.

What are
you thinking, Laverne?


I, uh... I talked
to Ms...

to Mrs...
which is it, anyway?

To... to uh...

to the coach,
and, um,

I'm... I'm... I'm gonna
come inside for debate prep now,

uh, thanks to you.

Someone took something
of mine.

I had a locket. I had
a 24-karat gold deco locket

with two pictures inside.
Is this ringing any bells?

One was of me, the other
was of someone else...

a boy, of sorts.

What's a...
a deco?

My mother believes that one
of her pseudo friends stole it,

because he, or even she,
is secretly a pedophile

and wanted the locket
to stare into or suck on

or utilize for other
specific erotic purposes.

But I told her that
I have this hunch...

I have this
womanly hunch

that it was taken out of my
backpack by someone at P.H.S.

It's like I sensed it leaving
my presence. Just an ounce...

but a burning ounce
as it left my person.

Well, I don't... I don't think
that the pedophile thing could be true.

Not that I, uh, even really
know anything about that.

But, I just don't
believe that anyone

would really think
of you like that.

Like what?

I mean, just, uh,
sexually, I mean.

That's the worst thing
anyone's ever said to me.

- Wait, no!
- I can't believe you said that.

No no, I didn't...

I never should have
asked you to join the team.

God only knows
what I was thinking.

But, I didn't...



- Yes?
- l...

here, l...
I stole it.

Shouldn't you be
at school?

- You took the locket, you weaselhead!
- Get out!

You left my theft box
a shit-faced mess.

Don't ever touch
the stuff I steal!

I mean it!
I steal it, it's mine!

You should put that on
your business card!

I'm gonna tan your hide,
you fake thief!

You God-awful
make-believe thief!

Judge Pete is gonna
lock you up.

Get your own
motherf'ing plan!

If you tell anyone
I stole it,

I'm going to wipe my ass with your

and I'm gonna reach in your
eye sockets and tear out your pancreas.

I'm hiding my theft box
where you'll never find it.

This is ridiculous!

And stay out!

It's for you, Annabelle.


uh, he... uh...

Is this the
Hefner mansion?

Um, uh, l...

yeah, uh,

can you... can you
hold on for a second?

I'm just gonna, um...

I'm just gonna move.
But stay on.

You can hang up now,

You can hang up
now, Earl.

Oh, okay.
You're the boss of me.

The boy whose picture
I keep in the locket that you stole,

did you see him?

Uh, yeah, he...

His name's Ben Wekselbaum.
We debated together

until he freaked out at
the final round at States

and left me with a lousy
second-place trophy.

I've never felt
anything like that.

Have you ever felt like you
could burn the world down?

Every day.

Well, he dropped out
of high school

and though he never did
have the decency to call,

I heard through the grapevine
that his grandmother got him a job

at the world-renowned Louise
dry-cleaners in Trenton.

l... yeah, I don't think
that I've ever heard of it.

Right. Anyway,
ultimately it's a good thing

that the spirit of cowardliness
overtook Ben Wekselbaum,

because it has one: left my
partner arrangement free this year,

and two: allowed me to find
someone that I can mold

into the kind of bare-knuckles
debater that I want to debate with.

The best debaters are
the ones with something to prove...

I, trying to rise above
the fiasco of last year's States,

and you trying to prove
to the world

that you're not as retarded
as you sometimes sound.

Which is why I want you to
overlook the embarrassment

that comes with having taken my locket
and join up with the team after all.

You're on dishes tonight,

I'm on an important
phone call, is what I'm on.

They're all important calls
in the world of Virginia Ryerson.

I have to go. I'll see you
at my house on Saturday.

- You're helping me with research.
- Yeah, oh, uh...

Ginny, are you...
are you still there?

Oh, I am, Katherine, yes,
and it's a good thing I am.


If you think you're gonna
get a long-term girlfriend

without my permission,
you got another think coming.

You'll never sleep
safe again. Not ever.

Don't do it, little shit!
Don't do it!

Try not to steal
anything if you can.

Cut it out
and come inside.

Close the door
behind you.

Sit down. You're finding me
quotes in the affirmative.

So, uh...

what do... what do you believe in
when it comes to abstinence?

Top debaters never really
believe in anything.

It gets in the way of
arguing from both sides.

But I mean, like,

for you, like
in your own life.

Debate is life. You shouldn't
think about it in any other context.

Because in my mind, I don't...
I don't really think it's...

a very good idea.
Abstinence, I mean.

Because, um,
I just...

don't think it's
a very good idea,

not for kids
in New Jersey.

Okay, well, that's enough
tangential bullshit.

Write down these template
arguments against abstinence:

One, supporting it violates the
barrier between church and state;

Two, it's an enforcement
of a dated, sexist agenda;

Three, sexual freedom is
the basis of human freedom;

Four, it separates us from
Western cultures, Europe in particular,

when we should be drawing closer
to our international allies;

Five, psychologists say
that repressed sexual functions

can create adult neuroses;

Six, abstinence programs
actually increase

risky sexual behavior
among teens;

Seven, it creates barriers
between free- love-generation parents

and their more
conservative children;

Eight, and finally, we oppose
abstinence because the world might end

and then basically everyone
we know dies a virgin.


Yeah, all those when
you think about it.

In preparation for our first official
debate exercise next week

show me that you can argue
in favor of abstinence.

Well, um...

I think I may be better arguing
from from the other side of this.



the only one that I could...
that I could really...

that I could really
come up with was...

that, uh, love is...
it's more special

when you...
when you do find it.

The special-love case.

Probably that stinks,
but I'll think about it some more

and we'll see.

Dad says he and Mom have done
every one of these at least twice,

and some as many as
100 times.

But he says no one's
keeping count,

which seems like
a big waste

'cause he could be the
Kama Sutra Barry Bonds or something

and no one would
even know it.

Yeah, I tried this one with my pants on
on Winchester, our old dog.

But he wouldn't sit still
and he died a month later.

Mmm, hot
and spicy.

Man, oh man.

Hey, would you be interested
in joining my club?

The Junior Philosophers.

Oh, uh,
well, I uh...

l... my plate
is kind of full.

I know what
you're thinking.

We read everything,
but no Hagel,

if that's your concern.

No, uh, actually
I'm waiting for a girl.

That girl.

You know what you can
do for me right now

is write up
some more flow charts.

Oh, thanks.


Once I was your age,

just as quiet on the inside
as most of you novice debaters are.

Quiet as a mouse.

Or a stone.

Or a bowl of pudding.

And then I saw my first debate
and the pudding was no more.

None of you novices
understands me now. You will.

Until then, the thing
to remember

is there are rules
that must be followed.

That's debate.

And that's life.

Our exercise today is an accelerated
run-through of a complete debate round

to teach you
those rules.

Why is the Hal Hefner
bowl of pudding

allowed to
demonstrate to us?

Uh, he's first year,
that's true, but Miss Ryerson

has assured me that
he's a quick study

and a rare talent, and he will
instruct and enlighten us today.

Our debate begins with
Ginny, the First Affirmative,

delivering an eight-minute
opening speech.

For our purposes, Ginny will
synopsize that down to 10 seconds.

Good afternoon,
ladies and germs.

Our Affirmative case today
in effect states

that increased
teenage pregnancies

will eventually bankrupt
Social Security, destroy the economy

and result in
the Third World War.

Therefore, we will quadruple the
federal spending given only to schools

that teach abstinence
to their students. Thank you.

That was lucid, thank you.

Now there's a two-minute

Second Negative
to First Affirmative.

Crystal Hamish-Steinberg
is the Second Negative.

Crystal Hamish-Steinberg, would you
give us an exemplary question

that you would ask?

Have you ever heard
of Bangladesh?

The perfect tease.

Now the women may sit
while the First Negative rises

to respond to Ginny.

Rather than attack
the Affirmative case,

Crystal Hamish-Steinberg and I propose
the following Negative counterplan:

We grant all the harms
claimed by the Affirmative,

but state that the better way
to combat teenage pregnancy

is by pouring money into
a huge rock concert

that we'll call the
"Concert for Sexlessness."

Thank you.

Now the First Affirmative
cross-examines the First Negative.

Do you have statistics on how many
rock stars practice abstinence?

How many rock stars in the historic
Concert for Bangladesh were Bangladeshi?

I'll ask the questions
here, Phillip.

The combatants

Now Hal Hefner wows us
with his Second Affirmative,

another eight-minute speech
boiled down here to 10 seconds.


There were three immediate
lines of argumentation

that came to mind.
But the best one went like this:

The plans are not
mutually exclusive.

Increased funding for
school programs

doesn't preclude the
Negative team's badly named

"Concert for Sexlessness."

The government can
and should do them both.

Uh, the...

Hal Hefner visualized
himself in that moment

as the kind of kid
who can state,

"The plans are not
mutually exclusive,"

whenever he wants
to say so.

The plans are not
mutually exclusive.

The plans are not...
no, they are...

they are not
mutually exclusive.

I'll be handling Hal Hefner's
cross-ex and rebuttal

until the first actual debate tournament
against other actual schools.

Until then, he will be my
silent partner. Hal Hefner, sit down.

Do you know what I sounded
like the first speech I gave

when I was your age?

Ben told me I sounded like
a Bob Dole impersonator.

I don't...

I'm not even really...

I'm not even quite sure
who that even is.

That was your first try,

your first of many.

And I don't even think
anybody really noticed.

It really... it wasn't
that big a...


we should get back. Well, I
should get back and finish the round...

Resolved that
the federal government

should support the teaching
of abstinence in public schools.


The motherf'ing federal government

should support the teaching of

in motherf'ing,
fucking public schools!


Do you...
do you guys, um...

do you know how, um...
how... how

you, or one,

would take a relationship
to the next level?

I'm glad you came
to me, because...

this is exactly the sort of
problem that Mommy and Daddy

would royally screw up.

See, it's all about
having an agenda,

which they will
never tell you.

If you have a plan, like "today,
I'm getting a blowjob,"

it helps you to
realize it.

It's all
very scientific.

Yeah, I'm uh...

I'm... I'm... I'm
just a doubter

that giving me a... a BJ

is high on Ginny's list.

You're her partner,

So you wait until
the moment is right.

Like after you crack a good...
a really good joke,

like the one that I crack
about the Queen of England,

and then ask.

It is totally worth the risk.
And you never know.

Once you've had a blowjob,
you'd understand.

It's like...

it's like walking
through a brick wall.

You know, Ginny said that
I won't be her...

her, um, her real partner
for months.

And that until then,
I'm like...

the mascot.

The disfluent mascot.

The disfluent mascot who's
not getting a BJ.

Like the aardvark.

No, that...
that was a joke, Heston.

There is no... there isn't
a debate mascot.

I, for some reason, was convinced
it was an aardvark.


C'est la vie.

Hey, uh,
can l...

I just...


Oh, uh, I
just wanted...

I wanted to try, uh,
this joke out on you.

It's, well, uh... it's,
well, the delivery

is kind of tricky, so...

What happens is that
the Queen of England

goes onto this... this
television show, and...

Listen, I'm almost done
with this chapter.

It's Thomas Aquinas.

But if you continue telling
me that filthy joke,

I'm gonna put this book down
and punch you very hard.

You know, some... well,
someday you'll find love

and then... then everything
will be different.

Mas... mas...

uh, masturbation is a natural precursor
of adult sexual development

and it should be unfettered
in a child's learning.

Johnson, '98.

Her plans changed.

Virginia says to keep
on working hard

and she'll call you to let you know
when you should come on over.

Well, because the Hazlet
tournament is almost here, and...

Just keep on keeping on
and maybe she'll call you.

Hi, there.

Do you know... do you know
if Ginny Ryerson is okay?

Because she
canceled our time today

and we have a... we have
a big tournament coming up,

at Hazlet High School, and all
the major Jersey schools will be there.

And l... and, uh, she hasn't...
she hasn't really, uh,

told me what her strategy
is gonna be to help me

deal with my...
with my speech.

She got into a Lincoln
with that Indian guy.

- And you're back.
- Is Ginny all right?

Because Lewis Garrles
from across the street

said she got into a
Lincoln with an Indian man.

A boy, that's right.

- So, she... but she's fine?
- Fine.

You, could...
will you just tell her

that... that I'm done and over
with the masturbation defense?

Tell her that, will you?
Just assure her

that I'm... that I'm...
that I'm...

that I'm done with masturbation
and I'm ready to show her.

You take care now.

I told Judge Pete about all
the fun you've been having

with debate,
and guess the news?

Heston's a joiner.

Uh, yeah, um...

it's... it's too late,

The, um...

the teams have
all been settled.

Coach Lumbly said that after
the first tournament

someone always gets creamed
and never comes back.

So, I'll be
filling that slot,

whomevers that may be.

To discover opportunity

in misery:

There's sense
in that.

That's how
I found you, my love.

Connie Ryerson speaking.


Is that you?



Uh, uh...

uh, this is, uh...
this, uh...

this is, uh...
this is...

Hal Hefner for, um...

call... I'm...
I'm calling for, uh...


Hold the line.

Hi, Ginny. It's Hal.

Hey, Hef here.
What's up?


Uh, yeah...

She says she'll see you at
the debate tomorrow. Okay?

Okay, well,

we... um, I really...
I really...

we... I really...
we need to, uh...

practice with her.

She'll see you then.


Good morning, Judge. Good morning,
our esteemed opponents.

N... let's...

Let's begin with our plan.

That the federal
government should...

Shut the mumbling, Susie.

But do not stop working,
because if you fail tomorrow,

the whole Hefner family fails
too, and I am not a failure.

So do not do it!


good morning there,

good morning,
our esteemed opponents.

When you work
so hard at something,

so hard,
all that extra time...

Wallace, you always tell me balance out,
balance out, balance out...

What are you
talking about?

Ginny Ryerson has transferred
to Townsend Prep

for the rest
of her senior year.

We have an even number so, Hal,
you'll muddle through today with Heston

and we'll reconstitute
the teams tomorrow.

Let's go, Wallace.

Would you like to tell me
what our Affirmative case is?

Or would you rather
it be a surprise?


good... good...
good morning there, Judge.

Good, uh... good...

good morning to you,

both, you, our
esteemed opponents.

Good morning, uh...


ab... ab...

That, uh...

resolved that... that...

that... that... that...
that, uh...

that it, uh...

How much time, timer?

Yeah, hello?

Mr... Mr... uh...
um, Mr...

What's the matter?

It's... it's, uh...
it's, uh,

well, it's funny
that you ask, actually.

Um, I've... I'm just...
I'm just here at, um...

I'm at... I'm at...
I'm at Hazlet...

Hazlet High School,
at the debate.

And spent the last...

I spent the last seven minutes
of my round-one speech

trying... trying to
say the resolution.

- Oh, man.
- Yeah.

Well, there's that video I gave
you, "Singing Instead of Talking."

Yeah, did, uh... did rat poison
and a straw come with that video?

Well, my ex-girlfriend,
the PhD at Annenberg,

she used to say her brother never
stuttered if he spoke in an accent.

You could try the accent
you know best,

and maybe that
would help.

Well, anyway, I
wouldn't count on it.

Mina's advice was about
as far-fetched as she was.

You know, open
relationships just...

don't work, Hal.


Uh, I'm advising...

that you should
try to do an accent.

- Okay?
- If I do that

you won't see...
you won't see me on Monday.

'Cause I'll already be...
I'll be on a...

I'll probably be
on a plane to...

Can you hold on
for a sec?

Okay, I should...

I should, mayb...
maybe I should...

I should probably go.

Good afternoon,

esteemed opponents
from Glen Rock.

Good afternoon.
Let's get our... let...

let's, uh...
let... let...

let's get, uh, down and...
down and... down and dirty,

shall we, with this...
this thing...

this thing... this thing...
this thing I'll call our plan.

Excuse me, I'm...

I'm... I'm...

I'm really sorry.

Slice of pizza or
Sloppy Joes,

and I don't want
to debate about it.

I'll take the pizza.

Townsend Prep's just a really,
really good school.

Slice of pizza
or Sloppy Joes

and I don't want to
debate you on it.

Pizza, two slices.

Slice of pizza, Sloppy Joes,
and I don't want to debate about it.


I'll have the...

not the... the, um...

- the, um...
- We're out of pizza.

Sloppy Joes are
all that's left.

But they're not that terrible if you've
never had really good ones before.

Thank you, ma'am.

She's not here.

Ginny and I don't
eat at tournaments...

draws blood
from the brain.

...will cause
special love in adulthood.

I just...
I don't...

I don't really know
what to do here.

Well, um,
this is the girls' room.



I want to read, also,
what one judge wrote

about Virginia.
She wrote:

"Virginia may be
the next Barbara Jordan."

How about that?

First place,
Individual Speaker...

Virginia Ryerson.

Where's the trophy?

Thank you.

Hal Hefner,
stay a moment, would you?

I'm gonna regroup.

Um, let's be
adults here

and think about who
could use...

a little time
on the sidelines.

Ginny recruited me.

She intuited...

intuited that l...
that l...

that my... that my brain
was made for this.

I mean, you can't even... you can't
even ask me a question

without my brain
filling up with retorts.

It's... it's full
of retorts.

Do you know
Mento Buin,

who doesn't speak more
than six words of English?

Or Evie Spedarsky,

who has such pronounced
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

that she's being studied
by a team at Princeton?


What about
Elvis Hunsinger,

the boy who pees
himself in gym class?

Well, everybody knows...


She tried to
recruit them all.

Never crossed my mind
that this could be some scheme of hers,

but, when you
think about it

looks pretty pat.

Your mom's running late
but wants us to...

Hey, now.

Wait a minute.
Let me see.

Oh, Jesus!

Man, oh man!

The most Heston ever hauled in
was an honorable mention

in the Hip-hop

But this is too much
coming from you!

On behalf of your dad...

This goes on the dining room table
for your mom to see when she gets home.


My dad told me I was
the world's utmost idiot

for not realizing
you won something today.

Please accept my
belated congratulations.

- Hello?
- Hello, Sylvia.

Fern didn't say anything
about Lewis's friends stopping by!

I get paid
per kid!

She can't be
going to bed.


Sylvia, no tip
for you tonight.


There's a cello
in your house now.

I hate you!

Mommy and
Judge Pete hate you!

Daddy hates you!

Melody, Daddy's new
girlfriend, hates you.

That bottle was reposado,
you doofus dunce!

Uncle Chaz spent
big bucks on that.

Uncle Chaz hates you!

That's all I wanted
to say.

There's pineapple cake
in the fridge.

If you're late I'll eat the whole cake,
so don't be late.

Maybe you should put the whole
debate thing behind you,

all a...
a lark of adolescence.

We all have 'em.

Mine was cheerleading.

I was the one boy
on the cheerleading squad.

Imagine that, huh?

Give me a "H," uh-uh-uh.
Give me a "A,"

Give me a "L," uh-uh-uh.

What does that spell?

That... that image is...

is not really helping.

Just... just because
debate was a wipeout,

I mean, you know,
a colossal wipeout,

doesn't mean
that you're a failure.

It's the activity
that failed you.

Hey, there's nothing to say you
couldn't try for the Spanish Club.

You could be Spanish Club
Vice President in no time.

Kyle Felowitz
is El Vice Presidente.


My point, Hal,
is that

you have to get out
of your own way here, man,

go back to living the way
you were before you tried to exceed

your... your limitations.

Hal Hefner floated
above his life,

saw the world around him
as if he were just a ghost

floating through.

Nothing could
harm him now.

Nothing could move him
or make him love again.

He was that kind
of ghost.

The kind that
couldn't love again.

...observation 1-A.

Diversion is the norm.

Quoting from the "Journal
of Adult Sexuality" '74:

the root cause of sexual
dysfunction are many...

As a boy ghost,

Hal Hefner surveyed
the world as he knew it.

And in everything he saw
was evidence that life goes on

with or without love.

He had stopped
thinking about the girl,

had stopped
dreaming about her,

or, even if that wasn't
entirely true,

had stopped dreaming
a certain kind of dream about her.

Well, maybe
most of the time.

Then spring came...

11 months after
his father left;

six months since
he last saw Ginny;

and six since
they'd kissed.

Over and over again!

- Just stop!
- I just want us to be buddies.

Be buddies with yourself!


your mom and I are over.
That's according to her.

She said that it was all her,
that it's always all her

- and could we be buddies?
- This is a very complicated

adult relationship.

This is why
your dad left.

You're just so
messed up!


Good God!

Mommy! Mommy!
Hal's freaking out in the garage!

This is gonna turn out
bad, I can feel it.

Virginia Ryerson, please
come to the main office.

Virginia Ryerson, you have
a visitor in the main office.

Are you her
little brother?

You look like you could
be her little brother.

I'm... I'm her ex-lover.

Take a seat. She'll be with you
in a minute.

So how far did you
get with her?

Does... does it count
as second base

when it's groping
through the shirt?

Maybe in public school.

What are you doing here?

Oh, uh, uh...


I have, uh... it's
spring break at Plainsboro.

I have...
I have the... the day off.


I'm going back to
A.P. Latin now.

Wait... I'm... I'm
returning this to you.

It belongs
to you and...

and it's important
to me that you have it.

It's your Hazlet trophy.

I had a bad night,
but I'm better now.

I don't want the trophy.

I'm... I'm gonna go back to class.
You need to leave.

Wait... every...
every... every...

everybody has
their own path!

And, uh...

Security, please report
to the main office.

Need you to deal with a...

stuttering boy
in the main office.

It was like he was

pretending that it could
all be what it was.

But it can't.

You can only pretend for so
long before the forces that be

take that away from you.

Just like that,
it took off

and he found
himself sprinting.

It was ridiculous,
but he did... he sprinted.

You don't let love collapse all around
you and not put up a fight.

You punch back,

unless you can find someone
else to throw the punch for you.

Then, by all means,
do that.


Uh, I'm... I'm here from
Plainsboro High,

and I've... I've, uh...
I've come here to find you.

Wait in the front
if you care to.

My shift ends
on the hour.

Oh, I care to.

Yeah, well, that's fine.
Wait in front.

That's God
doing your dry-cleaning.

God does dry-cleaning.

He wears a smock.

Man, it's a blessing to
be squarely and dearly

out of the
goddamn suburbs.

Suck the marrow right
from you, the suburbs will.

And it takes years

in the big city to inject
the life back into you...

literal years.

You... you mean,
the big city is...

is... is Trenton?

That's right...


Did Ginny send you?

Oh no, she doesn't... she doesn't...
she doesn't know anything.

- Lumbly?
- No, no. No.

Because if this is part of a grand
design to get me back to school...

You smell that
bus exhaust?

That'll be what you
leave behind

on your way back to
Plainsboro without me.

Wait. The thing is,
is that, uh...

what I want... what I want...
what I need is your help.

You don't even know me.

You... you do realize
you're like...

you're like a legend
at PHS, right?

Right, I'm the next
Shelley Hasty.

Who is...
who's she?

He. He supposedly drove
a Chevy Nova

into the cafeteria
in 1986.

There's a plaque somewhere next to
a water fountain in his honor.


I'm... I'm gonna be
the next legend at PHS.

And that's... that's not gonna
happen for me any other way

than to win...
uh, to win at States.

You're gonna
win at States?


Well... well... well,

we are, yes.

It's so pointless.

That's the realization
I came to at States last year:

Life is nothing
but repetition,

the same thing
over and over.

Somebody might
give you a trophy

and that's supposed to
mean you're making progress,

but there's no such thing.
The fights you fight today

are the fights you
fight till you die.

Yeah, well be...
be that as it may...


Be that as it may.

Wait, it's not some
college-application bullshit

that is... that's like the driving force
here, or any bullshit.

I'm sure.

No, uh, do you want
to know what it is?

Yeah. What
it is, is...

what it...
what it is, is...

uh, it's, uh...

is, uh, is...

no, what... what it
is, is...

well, it's love.

Well, if it's
not that, then...

then it's the need
for... for revenge

when... when love
goes bad.

It's one of those two,
love or revenge.

I'm not really sure
which one.

But it's one of
those two things

that made me throw a cello through
somebody's window.

So you figure it out.

An actual cello?

I mean, like, yeah, like
symphony-size, as far as I know.

You know, that's pretty
sharp in my book,

as far as reasons go.

Yeah, it took
a bunch of throws,

but you know,
I'm good for a bunch.

Have I got this right?

Your contention is that
we should debate as a team?

You, an inexperienced kid
with a bad and unpredictable stutter,

me, not having debated
at all this year

and having no knowledge
of the resolution.

In support of this,
you basically offer up

that you threw a cello
through someone's window.

It's charming,
no question.

But is it persuasive?

Why not make the case

that, A: allowing me to return
to States and win this year

will tie up that loose end
so that I can forge ahead

free from any of
life's regrets;

B: That charitable
enterprises such as this

would be the lifeblood
of advanced civilizations

even, perhaps especially in places
like Trenton, New Jersey;

And C: that while this life
here is infinitely preferable

to the wretchedness
of the suburbs,

it's also not quite what
I must have had in mind

and maybe I miss some of
the mundane thrills of policy debate.

Yeah, I mean,
all of that.

This goes against
my better judgment.

It does. But what
we'll need is one Affirmative case

and one all-purpose
Negative counterplan.

We can't do a year's worth
of work in one month,

so we'll concentrate on
those two lines of attack.

You'll have to arrange
with your parents...

do you have parents?

Oh, yeah,
I have a...

a mom that I see
most days and...

and I see my dad
some weekends.

You'll have to come to some
arrangement with them

or else let go of trying to

so that you can spend
evenings and weekends here.

We'll register as
a home-schooled team.

My grandmother will sign
whatever official paperwork is required.

But all such considerations
wait on our priority,

and that's finding
you your voice.

Suddenly, Trenton was
a different city;

no longer a dead end
but a starting place.


the very city
of triumph.

Fire when ready!

This isn't... this isn't

very good for
one's spirit.

I can't hear you!

It's... it's
spirit-crushing, I said.


What should I say?

Give me your standard
Affirmative opening.


You know, I haven't really said it
enough for it to really be...

for it to be standard.

Throw me the cello!


Let's get down and dirty.
Let's get down...

Let's... let's get...

let's get, uh...

let's get...
let us... let us...

uh, okay, let's just...
let... let us...

It's a riddle.

Yeah, yeah.

What it is is one of
those rare instances

where one of us having an advanced
college-degree might actually help.

I won't whisper.

It's a trick,
but it's... it's, uh...

it's crap.
It's a crap trick.

And I won't...
I won't do an accent,

however good...
however... however...

however good I
may be at them.

So that just leaves...
that's... that's just...

that's just singing.

Singing my speeches.

And then...
and after that,

arran... arranging to
have my...

have my... my...

have my ashes scattered

over the Plainsboro
Municipal Pond.

You know, I've...

I've thought about
the whole... the singing,

and, uh...

I don't think
I can do it,

the song thing.

This is "The Battle Hymn
of the Republic."

We might prefer something
more modern, I realize,

but this is the only piece
I can play all the way through.

What you're gonna do

is just learn the song well
enough to keep it in your head,

to let it flow through you

as you speak-sing
your speeches.

And we'll write
to fit the rhyme.

We think our case
will state

that sex is bound
to be explored...

- Abs... abstinence is the catalyst...
- Breathe.

- Breathe first.
- Abstinence is the catalyst... to support
such a... such a...

- a far-ranging... platform.
- I got it.

Go away!

That's Dad's.

I thought you could use
a bigger suitcase...

one with an actual handle.

I swear, Penelope,
I don't know what you would do

without someone in this family
who can steal and then organize.

Could I have
a request, Earl?

lf... if I win today,

could we say...
could we say that

you... you'll stop calling me
with girls' names?

Could we say that, if I win?

Let's not push it,
shall we?

Besides, Penelope's
my favorite girl's name.

All right, well,
could we... could we

maybe just leave it
with Penelope then?

Yeah, we can do that.

Thank you and welcome

to the 43rd Annual New Jersey
State Debate Championships.

There are 22 schools
represented here

from every region
in the state.

Every preliminary round
through the semifinals

will take place
in the classrooms

in the adjacent
academic buildings.

You'll only return to this auditorium
at the end of the day

for the final round

and the presentation
of the trophy.

Now, before we begin,

I want you to give yourselves
a big round of applause.

That's right.

Now, pairings for the first
three rounds are randomized.

Then they're weighted
by win-lose record.

Would you sign this?

It's my favorite
brief of the year.

It says that abstinence
leads to a global crisis

in mental health.

Aren't you that Chinese boy?

I'm K-Korean, yes.

And just... just so... just so
that you're... that you're aware,

it's really ignorant to lump us
all into one category like that.

You all can't win,

but you are all winners.
Good luck to you.

You think our case
will state that sex

is bound to be explored,

that adding funds
for abstinence

is what I will
have roared.

But such a case has been
heard so much that we are bored.

Our plan is, thus,
not that.

Our... our...
uh... uh...

our... our...

our government can best
support teaching abstinence

by refraining from
the common and ugly arrogance.

Instead of telling us
we should never do the dance

they should adopt this plan:

Amend the Constitution
so that no one over 
can serve in government,
there'll be only kids a-plenty.

We'll... we'll...
write the laws and fix sex ed,

and it won't cost a penny.

That's our basic plan.

What we'll...
what we'll...

what we'll do is create
a new federal government

where teenagers are only... are... are
the only... the only voices of authority.

By doing so... we'll help...
we'll help create

a... a wider consensus
among teens.

It's a more... it's a more dem...
it's more... it's more...

it's a more democratic system
and democracy is

the very basis for love

as we'll argue below
in the rest of my song-speech.

Now, please...
please turn to...

contingent one of our plan.

Now... now... now, this one's
a little harder to get the whole...

the whole... the kinda...
the... the rhyme scheme for it,

because... uh, because
of all the quotes that say...

that have "sexologist" in them
which isn't really...

it doesn't... it doesn't
really rhyme with too much.

But it basically...
it basically goes like this:

The role... the role
of the sexologist...

Gentlemen, come with me.

- Ben.
- Marsha.

The bow tie,
the pretty boutonniere?

- Yes, sir, it stirs the pot a little.
- For me too, Coach.

- No, don't do that.
- Excuse me, Coach?

I'm... I'm... I'm like...

I'm a minute into my...
into my opening.

And, uh... well, uh...

well, I've... well, uh...
well, I'm killing in there.

Aren't I killing?

I've heard worse.

she's heard worse.

There was an objection raised
to your entering here today.

And the New Jersey League officials
have already voted on it

and it doesn't feel altogether
great to have to tell you this.

You're not home-schooled,
Mr. Hefner.

And working most days
at a dry-cleaner's, Mr. Wekselbaum,

means that you're not either.

You've been barred
from the competition.

You're welcome to stay
and observe if you like.

You know, we... we, uh...

might have actually
won the whole thing.

Probably not if you really
apply powers of reason to it.

So that's...
so... so...

uh... so that's...
that's it?

Come and visit me
sometime, if you want.

We'll reminisce about this
and what it means.

Teen sexual experimentation
in these programs...

Well, uh... uh...

today was not my day.

But... but, uh...
but... but, uh...

some... someday will be.
And... and on... on that day,

you... you will be
sitting at home alone.

At home.

And you'll... you'll think to yourself...
when you're alone

that... that... that...

I knew him when.

Him being me.

Anarchy is not only the best system
in which to encourage adult maturation,

it is also the best system in which
to encourage sexual liberation.

Don't you dare go thinking
this was easy for me or simple!

If you think my feelings
on the matter were clear,

then you'd be underestimating
my complexity.

And while I see that you
don't recognize this now,

you actually have me
to thank...

in part, modesty
forces me to acknowledge,

but in large part... for your newfound
zest of competition and gamesmanship.

That was very clever
of you, to find Ben.

Surprisingly clever
and very painful.

Which means that I upped
your game, little man.

You're welcome!

Liberation breeds liberation, i.e.

sexual freedom
inspires political freedom.

At the heart of all liberty
is the liberty to engage...


I will have one of...

I'll have one of the...

I'll have
a slice of your...

the... of...

one of your...
one of your...

I'll have a slice
of the... of the...

the... the...
one of... what...

I mean, you can
imagine it's not fish

because you don't
have any fish here.

At least I hope not.

It's good. Um...

but I'll have a slice
of the... of your...

one of your... um,
slices of the... the...

the... the... the pizza.

You can pay me
when you're through.

You know, why don't
I make it not just...

not... not just...
not... not one...

not one slice, but, uh,

I'll have... I'll have...

not one.

I'm gonna close up in a bit.

Why don't you just
take all three?

Otherwise they're
getting trashed.


Thank you.

all of this would pass.

And the memory of it
would give way to embellishment

and fantasy
and outright distortion

until it was hard
for Hal Hefner to remember

what he was
really like back then.

When he still carried
in his head the sound of

a madeup perfect voice,

the voice that could
speak its heart,

the voice he used
to wish he had,

until the day he stopped wishing
he sounded like anyone else

and just started
talking as he was.

You okay?

Yeah, I'm okay.

But, uh, listen...

what do you...
what do you...

I mean, what are
your thoughts on...

like on... on...

on love?

Oh, man, it's so late, Hal.

I, um...

I couldn't find
the... the off-ramp.

And I ended up
circling back three times.

And, uh...

I don't even know if I know
how to get you back to Plainsboro.

You know,
it shouldn't be...

shouldn't... it really
shouldn't be like rocket,

uh... shouldn't
be rocket, um...

Sometimes, I don't know,

I guess I just
wonder when

it all starts
to make sense, you know?

All what?

All this.
You know, everything.


Well, I guess
there comes a point,

you see, when you
reach a certain age

and you're in Jersey,

or someplace just like it,


you stop trying
to figure it all out.

You just...

are glad
for what you have.


And that...
that... that...

that just, like, happens
for everyone?

Yeah. Pretty much.

But you let me know if it
turns out different for you.

I'll do that.

I'll find...

a... a way... a g...

some good way

of letting you know
how it all works out.

Special thanks to SergeiK.