Make Believe, Not War. SON OF RAMBOW
Nov 4, 2008 (Updated Nov 10, 2008)
Review by Mark Vaughan
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Bang For The Buck
Pros:Heartwarming, thought provoking, and FUN! Acting, Direction, Story, Cinematography, Plot, Pacing...the whole enchilada!
Cons:How did any of us survive our childhood?
The Bottom Line: This is a brilliant family movie, and one likely to spark discussion and creativity.
The Son of Rambow (2007) Directed and Written by Garth Jennings.
Recommend this product?
"This has been my best day ever." Repeated Line.
Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is an eleven-year-old English lad, fatherless, being raised as a Plymouth Brethren, which is kind of like being Mennonite, but without the joy. Will is not allowed to watch television, which means that when they watch films at school, Will is sent out in the hall.
Lee Carter (Will Poulter) is another child who spends a lot of time out in the hall, for entirely different reasons. He is referred to as "That Devil Child Carter" and while I don't think Lee is the Devil, I am willing to entertain the notion he might be a blood relative.
Lee finds in Will a victim, first bullying him until their actions break a fish bowl, then extorting Will's father's watch from the lad to take the "torture" for their infraction.
That however is not enough for Lee, who realizing Will really has not one clue that people can lie, ropes him into being his stunt man for the screen test he is shooting.
Will knows exactly what his mother and the church will say about this activity, so in the time honored manner of children every where, he handles it the only way he knows will work. He lies.
Lee lives in a retirement home; his mother's boyfriend owns it, and he and his brother Lawrence (Ed Westwick) are on their own. His brother is an over privileged w*nker who feels entitled to the world, his crony's total dedication, and Lee's indentured servitude. Lee gives his brother Will's father's watch for Lawrence's birthday. He receives not one word of thanks.
Lee pirates movies for Lawrence, and copies them for resale. While this was going on, Will had to hide (from Lawrence) while First Blood, the first Rambo movie played.
Imagine, being an eleven year old boy who has never seen a television, and you watch First Blood...it would blow your little mind.
And that is exactly what happened. Will's imagination, already fertile and seeded blooms like desert roses after the rain.
Will determines to help Lee Carter, and the movie they are going to make is Son of Rambow: Rambow's son is on a mission to get past the flying dog with machine guns, and rescue his father from the evil scarecrow.
And that is what they do. Will is catapulted, shot by fire hose pressure sprinklers, jumps from a tree with an umbrella, and swings from a rope out over the river. Too bad he can't swim...
And the boys grow closer. Will becomes as creative in telling lies as he is in his stories and storyboards. Lee becomes less the controller, and more a friend.
Then something happens. The French exchange students arrive.
Didier Revol (Jules Sitruk) strides off the bus with a white forelock, Elvis shades, red and black parachute ensemble, and red ankle boots with cha-cha heels. He is too cool for this school, and he knows it.
Filming continues. Didier establishes himself at the top of the social heap. Then with the filming of the famous Flying Dog incident, the boys' secret is discovered by Didier and his posse. While Lee Carter is suspended for a week, Didier, fascinated by Will's storyboard book, begs to be included in the production.
The Son of Rambow is now joined by The Wolf, and they have extras to play ninjas and other roles. Great progress is made combining Will's boundless imagination with Didier's hypnotic control over the entire student body. Progress that does not include Lee Carter.
During this time, Will's family and church have become progressively more concerned about him. His mother, Mary (Jessica Stevenson) is busy raising him, his younger sister, and taking care of her mother, (Anna Wing) who is basically an invalid. Pressure on Mary comes from the Brethren in the form of Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon). Mary and Neil are involved in the very subdued almost invisible courtship rituals of the Brethren, and Joshua tries to help with Will, with varied amounts of success.
When Lee Carter comes back, and finds *his* project co-opted by a French pouf and half the school, there is more than a little tension between the two friends. Will is pulled in so many directions; popularity and creative freedom on one side, his friendship with Lee, and the demands of his oppressive church, each pulling him in a different direction. Something has to break.
This is a remarkably good film. It is good on so many levels. The story is brilliant, wickedly funny, heart warming, heart breaking, and the story of the Son of Rambow is shaped by Will's life. By the same token, Will's life is completely reshaped by the Son of Rambow in a weird, wonderful feedback loop. The message of the movie is equally wonderful, and grows along with the character's development.
The movie is funny. It is all about that wonderful painful time when boys are in the last stages of being boys, Manhood and it's hormonal insanity lurks around the corner, but it is not here yet. Everything is still possible, and a boy's mind can roam anywhere, unhindered by responsibility, maturity, or girls.
And it is about the pressures of growing up, the pressures of being what your parents expect, and the pressures of doing without a parent. It is about the extraordinary lengths we will go to to be loved, and to be ourselves.
I cannot say enough good things about the actors; the adults were brilliant; their cares and concerns shining through their actions and attitudes. And the kids...good lord! The skills on these kids! Most of them had never acted. The only exception is Didier; Jules Sitruk is the biggest child star in France, a Parisian Haley Joel Osment. These boys were wicked brilliant...they were totally skill.
And the director, Garth, who is also the writer, got the very best out of them. His grasp of plot and pacing was flawless, and you could tell he made this set a great place for these kids to spend their summer holiday.
Normally, I don't bother commenting on the DVD extras, but in this case, I will make an exception; the feature Boys will be Boys is about the making of the movie. You can tell it was one of the most positive experiences of these young kids lives.
And since this was drawn from the Writer/Director's own childhood experiences, he has included "Aron" a film he and his friends (and sister) did back in 1986. Also included was the winner of the website contest, done by the Dunn family. They are a hoot. There is also a commentary track and previews to round out the experience.
This is a wonderful movie, and one suitable for the entire family. No sex, no violence, beyond the playground scuffle sort, and foul language as appropriate to real kids. It is wonderful, warm, nostalgic and magical. What more can one ask for?
Oh, and watch to the end of the credits; there is a minieasteregg; it is audio only, but worth the wait.
This is another entry into CaptainD's Good Movie Write-Off.
Movie Mood: Feel-good Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Nothing
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