Monday, 7 April 2008

Son of Rambow ****

Let’s get right behind a lovely new British film. A childhood story set during an English summer in the 1980’s, Son of Rambow centres on Will (Bill Milner) who’s not yet old enough to gain access to the sixth form centre. Adding to his woes, his family (with an absent father) practice religion as Plymouth Brethren, so he is not allowed to mix with less religious children, watch TV or listen to pop music. No teenage kicks for him. Until that is the whirlwind, and all round school bad boy, Lee Carter steps into his life. Carter (played by Will Poulter) has a permanent scowl on his face and is the kind of pupil who spends most of his time either outside his classroom or waiting to see the head master. He’s an outsider who draws Will into his world; a place that includes top-loading VHS players and pirate copies of Rambo: First Blood and joyously: his camcorder.

Using his beloved movie camera, Carter sets out, with great imagination, to re-shoot Stallone’s violent epic with little Will as his semi-hapless stuntman, playing the son of Rambo. The actual filmmakers added the extra “W” for legal reasons although Mr Stallone was so impressed with director Garth Jennings’ vision; he allowed footage from First Blood to be included.

The boys enthusiasm for their remake, as Will is fired from catapults and sent swinging from vines, is a joy to watch and extremely funny to boot. Son of Rambow is a compelling story of friendship and growing up that just happens to be steeped in memories of the 1980’s. Jennings creates a convincing and hilarious school environment, with a sixth-form common room agog with New Romantic clobber and fizzy sweets. Also a large part of the humour comes with the arrival of an army of French exchange students, the coolest of which has the English schoolgirls lining up for kissing practice. The stunts, humour, and natural performances from the two boys combine for terrific entertainment. Son of Rambow also revels in the low-fi remaking of Hollywood movies, as seen recently in Be Kind Rewind; but the British film has a much better story and characters to go with its sweding.

As published in Thanet Extra, KM Group Friday April 4th 2008

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