Director – Garth Jennings
Writer – Garth Jennings
Starring – Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Zofia Brooks, Neil Dudgeon, Tallulah Evans, Jessica Hynes
Sure to be one of the most charming movies of 2008, Son of Rambow is a tale that’s cute, loveable and just a general crowd pleaser. And it proves that home movies are sometimes world’s better than an actual ones.
After seeing First Blood at a much too young age, new friends Will and Lee decide to make their own version of it using a home video camera and eventually with the help of the rest of their school.
Although throughout the film the script isn’t as fully written as it could and should be it still, none the less, fits together in an adequate fashion allowing plenty of room for the creativity and enthusiasm that’s injected by writer/director Garth Jennings. Since he’s the man who brought us the recent Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film, creativity isn’t too hard for him to muster. There’s plenty of it on display here, predominantly in the scenes where the two boys make the home video. Similar to Michel Gondry’s recent above average Be Kind Rewind they use very creative and original ways of getting the desired effects, including a hilarious sequence involving a flying dog…don’t ask, see it for yourself. There are also some very creative and well done, in that home-made kind of style, of dream/imagination sequences. Even the older viewers should be inspired by these two little enthusiastic rascals.
The rest of the fun comes from the shenanigans of the two boys, in particular Lee, the renegade of the two. He gets thrown out of class almost every day of the week, steals from the local supermarket (including stealing a charity for the blind collection statue) and is just generally one of those misbehaving kids we all knew from school at one point or another. His attitude and actions are generally bad, and the audience obviously knows it from growing up, but the school kid in all of us can revel in this boy’s antics and think back to when they no doubt did the same things at one point.
Will, the more level-headed “good student” of the two, is naive and innocent but eager to learn and join in on Lee’s antics. As well as relating to the misbehaver we also relate very much to the nature of “the good one”. He is also the kind of student we all remember either being or seeing around school. Since his mother is a devout Christian he isn’t allowed to watch TV or hang around with people like Lee, thus he has been shielded from what the world truly has to offer. The film explores the relationship between the two, the ups and inevitable downs of their time together before, during and after making their own version of Rambo. It’s all round sweet and charming pretty much from start to finish and even at the worst of times there’s always something round the corner to put a smile back on your face.
Evidenced by the relationship between the two main characters and the enthusiasm on show it is very obvious that this is a very personal film to writer/director Jennings. In an interview he said that it’s an absolute true story as when he was younger he and his friends made versions of all kinds of films, including First Blood. This gives a lot of weight to the film that it otherwise might not have had. To know that this story is coming from such a sincere place is a very good element to have within the overall package.
What Jennings is able to capture is the essence of 1980’s England and school life in general. Despite all the fun you have at that age it still sucks and sucks even more having to go school. Getting up at the same time every morning, going to sit in boring classes and coming home at the same time. Doing the same thing everyday, day in-day out. Anyone presented at that age with the proposition of doing something creative like making your own version of a movie would jump at the chance.
Fans of films like Be Kind Rewind and Little Miss Sunshine will eat this one up with a huge smile on their face. It has a couple of problems, most noticeably is the underwritten script (and a strange sub-plot involving a French foreign exchange student) but it’s not enough to damage the film beyond repair. Charming, fun and just all round loveable, Son of Rambow is a real treat.