UK filmmakers Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith's sentimental coming-of-age story is a quirky charmer about two youngsters making their own DIY version of FIRST BLOOD.
Set in suburban England in the mid-1980s, the film hinges on the unlikely friendship that springs up between elementary school classmates Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter). Skinny, quiet Will and his younger sister, Jess (Tallulah Evans), are being raised by their widowed mother (Jessica Stevenson) as members of the Bretheren, an austere religious sect that shuns television, popular music and, of course, movies as dangerous temptations. Will is lucky he's even allowed to attend an "outside" school. The slightly older Lee is his exact opposite, a troublemaker who lives with his bullying older brother, Lawrence (Ed Westwick), in the old age home that belongs to their absentee mother and her second husband. Fate throws them together and Will – an avid artist who scribbles primitive flip-book cartoons in his Bible -- sees his first movie, a bootleg copy of FIRST BLOOD. Instantly hooked, Will happily surrenders to the sin of not only watching movies but making them – Lee is determined to win a BBC-sponsored competition for aspiring filmmakers' competition and needs someone to do stunts -- crazy, dangerous stunts that any responsible adult would forbid. But Lee is unsupervised and the well-behaved Will need only tell his mother he's helping an injured classmate with his chores, the kind of good work expected of the Brethen. With Will's enthusiast input, the project it becomes "Son of Rambow," a makeshift action epic. And like the Blob, "Son of Rambow" absorbs everyone and everything around it, from the life-size charity bank shaped like a dog the boys transform into a flying monster to the onscreen stylings of Didier Revol (Jules Sitruk), the French exchange student whose New Wave cool captivates the entire student body.
Goldsmith and Jennings' screenplay, inspired by their own childhood experiences as budding filmmakers, becomes increasingly predictable as it works its way to a formulaic happy ending. But first-timers Milner and Poulter are engagingly unaffected and convey a real sense of the explosive joy the right movie at the right time can spark, along with the fierce desire to make it your own. Michel Gondry's over-thought BE KIND REWIND (2007) is labored by comparison – the amateurish enthusiasm of children is more endearing than the folly of childish adults. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh