SPECIAL REVIEW: Son of Rambow
Produced by: Nick Goldsmith
Written by: Garth Jennings
Edited by: Dominic Leung
Cinematography by: Jess Hall
Music by: Joby Talbot
Starring: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Hynes, Neil Dudgeon, Anna Wing, Ed Westwick, Eric Sykes
NOTE: I’ve been a bit hard pressed for time and energy lately, but I’m actually working on a new review at this moment for a certain big summer blockbuster superhero film that just released, so it’s coming but not quite ready yet. Looking back through my old notes on Facebook, however, I discovered that I’d written a couple of reviews there that I’d completely forgotten about, so I’m dusting one of them off and, apart from the images and my now standardized credits, I’m presenting it to you unedited. This review is being titled a “Special Review” as it was written quite a while ago, back in 2010, a few months after I graduated from college and almost exactly a year before I created this blog but was seriously considering it. This is a seemingly forgotten gem of a film that was among the first that I’d rented when I first got Netflix. The review here may not reflect my current opinion (though I have admittedly not seen it since), however, and I reserve the right to re-review it if I see it again and choose to do so. ‘Cause, you know, it’s my blog… That being said, I still have fond memories of this film and hope you’ll check it out, too!
Son of Rambow is all about the importance of freedom and friendship in childhood. Now, you might take one look at the amateurish cover art, think to yourself, “Yeah, typical coming-of-age themes,” and pass it over, but that would be a terrible mistake.
The film has a fun premise that only gets better in the film’s execution. The two leads, English schoolboys in the 80s, begin their relationship as polar opposites. Lee, who is almost never NOT getting into trouble, basically enslaves the poor Will, who, due to his family’s religious beliefs, has been forbidden from watching television and films and associating with kids outside his puritanical circle of Brethren.
Of course, the two boys eventually bond, and, after Lee inadvertently exposes the innocent Will to a pirated copy of First Blood, Will becomes hellbent on completing the film Lee hopes to enter into a young filmmaker’s contest. Unleashing his pent up imagination, Will helps to transform the film into an unofficial spin-off of his new hero’s film franchise.
“Son of Rambow” follows the general guideline most films of its type adhere to, including the trope that bad-boy Lee doesn’t exactly have the happiest family situation and Will’s religious mother learning a thing or two from her son, even as he rebels against their puritanical religious beliefs, but director Garth Jennings, who also directed the enjoyably silly theatrical adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, likewise keeps everything whimsical and fun. Bill Milner and Will Poulter, as Will and Lee respectively, are great as the two young filmmakers, who are likely destined to be the next Spielberg and Lucas (though, hopefully, without one of them also falling to the Dark Side…).
Despite the presence of children, though, the film isn’t exactly a film meant for children. Sure, it’s whimsical and imaginative, with plenty to say about the bonds of friendship and the importance of following dreams, and children will undoubtedly find it just as enjoyable as the adults, but most parents, I imagine, would also probably be shocked at the amount of profanity scattered about in the dialogue. If you’re not too nitpicky about these details, I can imagine it would be a great film for families with somewhat older kids, however. I know that “Son of Rambow” would’ve likely been held as one of my own favorites had I seen it as a kid. If you can follow the mother’s example and let go of any misgivings you might have about these small factors, it’s very likely you might find yourself falling for Son of Rambow‘s many outstanding charms.
Rating: 4/5 Stars