SON OF RAMBOW(director/writer: Garth Jennings; cinematographer: Jess Hall; editor: Dominic Leung; music: Joby Talbot; cast: Bill Milner (Will Proudfoot), Will Poulter (Lee Carter), Jessica Stevenson (Mary Proudfoot), Neil Dudgeon (Joshua), Jules Sitruk (Didier Revol), Ed Westwick (Lawrence Carter); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Nick Goldsmith; Paramount Vantage; 2007-UK)
“An almost unbearably tedious kidpic about two fatherless boy opposites using Rambo as a role model.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An almost unbearably tedious kidpic about two fatherless boy opposites using Rambo as a role model. It’s hard to digest how this offbeat sentimental coming-of-age story can pull together to show how children’s imaginations can blossom by aping the unimaginative Stallone film First Blood; it also veers off into trite domestic melodrama territory by highlighting the kiddies stifling homelife. The shallow humored whimsical film is written and directed by Garth Jennings (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”), who sets it in suburban England in the mid-1980s.
Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is a well-mannered nerdy adolescent schoolboy being raised in a fundamentalist religious community called the Brethren, an Amish-like group, who have banned TV and movies as sinful. Lee Carter (Will Poulter) is the public school bully bad boy who befriends Will, somehow allowed to attend that outsider’s school, and shows him a pirated copy of Rambo: First Blood. This supposedly opens up Will’s imagination (oy vey!), and in secret he joins Carter in making their own amateur film for a BBC film contest for aspiring filmmakers–with Will doing the stunts under Carter’s camera work (the video camera borrowed from Carter’s older brother). Things get even more hectic when the New Wave cool French exchange student, Didier Revol (Jules Sitruk), the smarmy hit of the campus, joins the project and tries to hijack it for his own benefit.
When not making their own Rambo film, the story veers back and forth between both dysfunctional families as the slightly older than his friend Carter dwells with his young adult bullying brother Lawrence (Ed Westwick) who cares for him while his absentee non-caring parents live it up in Spain (dad owns the nursing home facility where the brothers reside). Will resides with his widowed mom Mary (Jessica Stevenson), a somber member of the austere religious cult. His dad was a soldier who died in the Falklands. The mistreated kid has to endure the cult’s rigid rules enforced by Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon), the group’s religious leader.
I was more vexed by the film’s vulgar pronouncements and simplistic manipulative storytelling than I was charmed at seeing the kiddies learn to love films at an early age, where they supposedly can grow up into young adults and be fanboys of lousy action blockbuster films that appear at the local mall. Watching the kiddies work so hard to make such a mediocre short amateur film hardly made my day. In fact, the main film itself looked as bad as the amateur film, in a film that had enough worthy material for a thirty minute home movie project. At 96 minutes, it was not a fun watch. The uptight adults were too easy a target to ridicule, while the long-suffering kiddies were too easy to sympathize with in a sentimental way.
REVIEWED ON 6/8/2008 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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