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Rocket man, why couldn’t you just be a dud?

‘The Rocket’ is just OK

February 11, 2014, 12:00 am

The Rocket is getting raves everywhere—except here. What it lacks in creativity it makes up for in spirited performances. (Plus, it has the novelty of taking place in Laos, which is just the kind of novelty critics love.)

But if this movie took place in, say, Des Moines, you’d wonder what all the fuss was about. At The Rocket’s opening, Mali (Alice Keohavong) is giving birth to twin boys. One is stillborn, and Mali’s mother-in-law Taitok (Bunsri Yindi) says the surviving one must be killed because twins are bad news.

Mali talks Taitok out of killing the baby that grows into 10-year-old Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), but bad things start happening. A new government dam forces the family into what is essentially a refugee camp, Mali is killed in a horrible accident, and Ahlo gets the remaining family members kicked out of their new home.

Luckily for Ahlo, he’s made friends with Uncle Purple (Thep Phongam), so named because he wears a purple suit like James Brown. And Purple knows a thing or two about unexploded bombs and rocket building, which is perfect for the place Ahlo and his family end up: A camp with a rocket competition for cash.

Disamoe, Phongram and Yindi are excellent, but the fable and its denouement ring false. But the purple suit is great.

Directed by Kim Mordaunt
With Sitthiphon Disamoe, Thep Phongam and Bunsri Yindi
The Screen
92 min.


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