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Son of Rambow
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Reviews & Ratings for
Son of Rambow More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Vibrant, touching nostalgia trip and love letter to cinema.

Author: theskulI42 from Denver, CO
31 August 2008

A glorious paean to the wonders and rewards of film-making, and is everything Be Kind, Rewind wished it was and wanted to be, Son of Rambow is also a resounding testament to the possibilities and splendor of childhood. The film, set circa-1982, follows the story of Will Proudfoot (Billy Milner), who is not allowed to watch TV or movies thanks to the fundamentalist religion he is inoculated in, which forbids much of the creature comforts of modern life. While excused from class during a video, he meets Lee Carter (Will Poulter), an outspoken troublemaker, who has been sent out in the hall. After being tricked into becoming Lee's personal servant, the two discover a shared imagination, and once Will accidentally discovers the glories of Rambo: First Blood (which Lee has been tasked by his older brother into making bootleg copies of), the two set out to secretly make a film for a young filmmakers competition, a sequel called Son of Rambow.

The film is a joy to behold. Garth Jennings' direction is concise and vivid, enlivening the setting and the era with an objective nostalgia that allows you to soak up the atmosphere of an era that you may not have been a part of. I have not done any research, but I would be shocked if Jennings did not grow up in the area the film is set in at the time it takes place, because there is a vibrant love for the setting that emanates from every scene that brings to mind Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, or some of Woody Allen's New York love letters. Another crewmember that deserves commendation is editor Dominic Leung, as 2008 for me has been a year of bloated celluloid, film after film after film just begging for a good trim, mixed in with films that no amount of cutting could save. Son of Rambow has no such problem. The film is only as long as it needs to be, has its story run until its natural conclusion, and then, in a shocking twist, actually ends, leaving you no time to impatiently gaze at a watch or even begin tapping your restless foot.

The acting by the children is uniformly strong. Milner has the wispy, wimpy impishness of a home-schooled child oppressed by adults and religion, and his face perfectly renders the wonderment of experiencing film and life for the first time. Will Poulter, as his budding best friend also believably puts forth the facade of toughness as well as the spectre of loneliness as a rebellious child neglected by his parents. The rest of the cast is presented more self-consciously 'wacky', but the bizarre subplot involving fabulous French trendsetter Didier (Jules Sitruk) ends up functioning much in the way McLovin serviced the plot of Superbad. It's nowhere near as successful and is a bit half-baked, but his heightened (sur)realism becomes a sort of facetious flight of fancy instead of a distraction.

Son of Rambow is the kind of film everyone should see, a film I couldn't fathom anyone disliking. Children can sympathize, adults can experience nostalgic visions of childhood, and everyone else can sit back and enjoy the fun. For the year, it doesn't quite hit WALL-E's stratospheric heights, but it's substantially more succinct than Pineapple Express, which means that Son of Rambow ends up being the key to respectability, as it expunges 27 Dresses from my top 10 and makes my top ten look altogether pretty decent. Thanks, Son of Rambow, the flick is good too.

{Grade: 8.5/10 (B+) / #2 (of 67) of 2008}

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Lee Scott from United Kingdom
31 May 2008

This film is, in my ever so humble opinion, skill on toast. However, if you don't have childhood memories of 80s Britain you may find less to enjoy, but even if that's the case you will still get a well-acted, sweet (but not cloyingly saccharine) and funny film about growing up and mates and all the stuff that gets rolled into that, along with sidelines like commentary on oppressive religion and how to worship a French exchange student! If you were a kid in 80s Britain, it gets better, as the perfectly observed (without sinking into caricature) language and costumes brings back a load of (mostly embarrassing!) memories. The film beautifully evokes just how big and intimate and scary and exciting and overwhelming and ace being a kid can be, and is well worth a watch.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Kid's Dramadey

Author: megatom5 from United States
29 August 2008

I had heard about this movie when it was circulating through the indie circuits, and thought the premise sounded interesting. Also being a fan of Rambo drew me to it. The most deceiving thing about this film is both of the aforementioned things. The premise seems funny and lighthearted, but really to me this was much more in tune with a dramadey rather than a straight up comedy. I wanted to laugh and have fun with this movie but there was just way too many dramatic parts. I'm not against giving some weight to comedies (hey it works great in Judd Apatow films), but here it just feels like a majority of the plot. Not to mention Jessica Hynes, who plays the mother, is completely wasted here as a staunch religious quaker type, who you really hate at some parts. There are also several subplots that get in the way and draw out the film too much. Also if you detest 80's glam like I do then you should simply skip the early scenes with the french kid, complete waste of time. The best part of this film is the end. It has a very nice heartfelt ending, but it feels like a little too late at this point. I wanted to like this film, but I simply couldn't.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The son of Colonel Trautman should at least get equal billing

Author: Grant_Price from United Kingdom
3 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are three main problems with 'Son Of Rambow.' The first is that the whole film looks as if it were shot by two eleven year old children, and not just the scenes where this is intentionally the case. The second main problem is that the majority of the dialogue sounds as though it were written by two eleven year olds. The third is that the comedy in the film is entirely unfunny, unless you happen to be an eleven year-old. Aside from those minor issues, 'Son Of Rambow' is great. Yeah.

The story involves, rather unsurprisingly, two eleven year old boys named Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) who begin as polar opposites of each other. Proudfoot is overly introverted due to his upbringing at the hands of a religion known for being extremely isolated from the rest of society. His only form of entertainment comes from his own imagination, which finds its form through drawings. Carter on the other hand has no such controlling factor in his life and is frequently shown to have a problem with authority and breaks the law for fun, like making pirated copies of films such as 'First Blood' and 'First Blood Part II.' His real passion lies in film-making. Guess who sees the films for the first time, has his imagination stimulated beyond anything he'd previously thought possible and storyboards a sequel to 'First Blood' with an aim to act it out? And speculate who has been conveniently looking for a story to film in order to send it off to a national young filmmakers' competition. That's the story. Two resourceful boys make a film, enduring much laughter and hardship along the way.

Being an indie film, it has to include a number of ridiculous and surreal secondary characters, the foremost of which is a French exchange student who is so cool (read: is a transvestite) that schoolgirls line up to beg to be inseminated by him. Predictably, he becomes the star of Proudfoot and Carter's film, but is finally shown to be a dick following an ostentatious set piece that would never happen in real life. Carter's brother on the other hand is the exact opposite of the French kid, being a dick by bullying Carter throughout the film but gaining redemption by the end. There are plenty of other superfluous morons, including a science teacher who commits a number of un-hilarious pratfalls such as stabbing himself in the nose with a pair of scissors or falling over/screaming comically, Proudfoot's entire family (his disabled Grandmother does not, despite what director Garth Jennings believes, evoke feelings of pity for the sister, the mother or Proudfoot himself) and the villainous member of the religious sect who tries to muscle his way in as 'new father figure and mother servicer' in Proudfoot's family.

A few positive points can be taken from Son Of Rambow. Bill Milner and Will Poulter both give compelling performances throughout, with the one exception of the scene involving shouting at each other, because it sounds as though both actors are practising reading through their lines for the first time. The compilation of Sylvester Stallone clips as a truculent Rambo is welcome in any film and should possibly be made compulsory. Finally, the focus on religion as the root of evil in the story is a brave and somewhat novel move in a film of this kind. So congratulations on cutting through the saccharine and piquing my interest once, Garth Jennings.

In conclusion, by all means watch this if you are, or have the mentality of, an eleven year old boy. It'll give you some great ideas on what to do during a slow summer's day. Also, if you've been struck by uncontrollable giggles, just give Son Of Rambow a look and they'll stop immediately. They actually might not come back for the rest of your life.

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3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Total Disappointment

Author: sunraider from United States
1 September 2008

This film received some positive reviews and was shown in limited release here in the US. But, as someone else has commented, this is another bad modern British film. I was appalled by THIS IS ENGLAND. This film didn't turn my stomach so much as it just bored me. It was disjointed and convoluted. The main characters are not well developed and the one boy's conversion into a RAMBO fanatic is too fast and unbelievable. And there's too much extraneous plot that gets in he way of the main story about the two young boys escaping into a fantasy world. The introduction of the French exchange student, Didier, into the main plot is unnecessary. He doesn't really add anything to the story. If the film had focused on the two main boys, who are alienated from larger society for very different reasons, and their attempts to escape into a fictional fantasy world where they are masters of their universe and in control, then the film might have been more memorable.

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6 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Another British film that needed more rewriting

Author: kjewitt from United Kingdom
6 April 2008

Some great ideas in there. The central notion of two kids remaking Rambo for the "Screentest" competition was great. However there were plenty of longueurs, especially in the scenes about the pair's schoolmates. I was a child once and the school scenes left me completely cold. A lot of money and time were spent without generating any real emotional impact. Also a real problem about tone, something which is so hard for people from a non-film background to get right. The school scenes, the film-within-film scenes and the home-life scenes were all on different levels of reality. Jessica Stevenson was almost too good as the Plymouth Brethren mother, driving a serious drama about child-escaping-from-religious-life, but it was competing for screen time with other stories in different genres. The answer to all these problems is to work harder on the script. Anything written by its director is always a bit suspect in my eyes. There should be people (eg producer, director) scrutinising every word before anyone picks up a camera.

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3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: robert-642 from United Kingdom
4 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not totally sure I should be writing this because I believe the film was aimed at young people. If not then I did not understand what was going on. The narrative was terrible. It seemed as if somebody had shot a sequence and then cut it all up and asked somebody who didn't know what they were doing to join it together.

What was with the camera work and lighting? Constant long shots and zooms that got in the way. The scene in the hospital was too dark. No way would a hospital ward for a child be so dark. And then the bleeping heart monitor for somebody with just a broken leg? Oh dear? As mentioned by previous contributors. What was the French exchange student all about? I guess it was to make up for the lack of any original ideas.

I guess if it was edited down to say 40 minutes with a little more vibrancy it would work.

One mark for the actor ad I'm glad I rented it on DVD instead of spending money on a cinema ticket.

If this was a film about childhood it failed.

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8 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

major disappointment: don't' waste your time

Author: delmonte21 from United Kingdom
8 April 2008

Since all the posts are positive I thought I'd change the tone to ward off those thinking of wasting 2 hours on this. What is wrong with film reviewing these days? There seems ot be an inability for people to just state the truth about a movie. It's like "2 thumbs up!" or "5 stars!" - how about this for a review: "sh*t." A disappointment. A lot of hype, good reviews, but it failed to deliver. it just didn't leave me entertained at all. There was one entertaining character in it, an island surrounded by an ocean of so much dreary dross. The plot was confused and poorly constructed, driven by characters who were pretty clichéd. Not much more to it. do yourself a favour and rent out one of the IMDb top 250 you haven't seen before.

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5 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Son of Ram-bore

Author: come2whereimfrom from United Kingdom
10 April 2008

First blood or Rambo 1 came out in 1982, the year this film is supposed to be set, the first piece of eighties music we hear 'Close to me' by The Cure came out in 1985 and there is no sign of a time machine in Garth Jennings film, thus I say to you its starts badly and doesn't really get any better. This really was Jennings chance to redeem himself after the incredibly sacrilegious 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', which I brought my dad (a massive fan) before I'd seen it which meant me having to apologise to him for buying such a rubbish present after I had, but sadly there is no redemption here. There's a saying that goes 'if you remember the sixties you weren't there' well the eighties portrayed here is the eighties people who weren't there imagine it was like, nothing like it actually was, an ideal and a fantasy. I would accept the idea that the smell of novelty rubbers would be more important than the government taking away your milk if it was played for laughs, trouble is this film just isn't funny and if you trimmed away all the overblown sentiment and meandering subtext it wouldn't even make a great episode of Grange Hill. The boy picks on boy, boy befriends boy, boys falls out with boy, boy makes up with boy story has been done to death and here with such a boring script there is no new life injected into it. At one point I was so bored I found myself noticing that a character in flashback had a facial mole that their future self didn't. 'oh don't pick on it, it's a quaint nostalgic memoir' I hear you shout, well then maybe it should be accurate and if its not about accuracy then maybe it should at least have been good. Instead we get twee, idealistic, fake eighties middle England, overblown with emotion and saccharine sweet characters, if Jennings's eighties was truly this Utopian then he was a very lucky man.

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10 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Ugh. YawnSauce

Author: imdb-8212 from United States
29 May 2008

I heard about this "Awesome" movie at work and had to run out to see it. "It's geared to our age group!" I heard. Hmph. My age group may love Rambo but this crap is just insulting. I'll never get back the hour I sat through (walked out after that). It's S-L-O-W. It's brilliantly slow. I swear you'd have to film snails dating to get a slower plot with a climax much more exciting (the snails, I mean). I keep seeing that this was supposed to be a comedy, but where was the laughter? No one laughed in the theater. Maybe we're talking about different movies with the same title? That's the only way I can explain how horrible this was and how starkly contrasted these comments are to my personal experience. If you go to see one movie this summer make sure it's NOT Son of Rambow. YawnSauce x2.

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