Son of Rambow
Directed by Garth Jennings
Starring Will Poulter, Bill Milner
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: August 26, 2008
I don’t know where this stuff starts. For months I had heard about this movie, the darling of the festival circuit, and had been interested in its premise. Two British lads inspired by a bootlegged copy of the movie Rambo: First Blood set out to make their own version of the film to try and win a young filmmaker competition. Sounds promising but there’s only one small problem: It was boring as hell.
I sat down to watch Son of Rambow one evening and fell asleep halfway through it. I woke up a couple hours later and finished it. Feeling I didn’t give it a fair shake, I waited until the next day and re-watched it in its entirety. What conclusions did I draw the second time around? That I was right the first time.
I know it’s supposed to be cute and endearing to watch kids do things usually reserved for adults but I just didn’t care about these kids or their actions. You’ve got your basic buddy story setup. Lee Carter (Will Poulter), the most misbehaved kid in school, bullies classmate Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) into hanging out with him. Wouldn’t you know, along the way they grow into actual friends. Neither kid seems to have any real guidance around him at home.
Away from school Carter is bullied and ordered around by his older brother, proving once again that bullies at school are probably bullied themselves at home (thanks Mom). On the other hand, Will’s home life is such a stifling overbearance of ill-directed guidance that any creativity the kid has is being choked out of him by the strong hand of the religious sect his family belongs to. So it makes perfect sense that these two polar opposites team up for some mild mannered chichanary.
A larger issue than its monotony is the opportunity that was pissed away in lieu of half-hearted sentiment. How great it would have been to see a story that showed the impact movies have on young impressionable minds and how it chose to manifest itself when given the opportunity to do so? How great it would have been to see some of that wry British humor they are so famous for across the pond? No, instead between its rank subplots of French foreign exchange students that came and went out of nowhere and its Lifetime Movie of the Week ending, we got Be Kind Rewind for the Nickelodeon age.
I probably shouldn’t be complaining too much. In a way, Son of Rambow *did* make me feel like a kid again. That kid in me who thought movie critics were pretentious snobs who hated everything I liked and liked what I hated. I guess it’s nice to know he’s still in there somewhere.
And there’s the rub.
* Â½ out of ****
Note, in the U.S., the DVD will be available exclusively for sale at Best Buy and for rent at all major rental locations. It will be for sale or rent at all major retailers in Canada.