By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Vantage
Son of Rambow
Well, Son of Rambow is not what I was expecting. I wanted to see the spoof of a little kid imitating Rambo. It's really a touching kids movie about youthful imagination and family values. That's not what I wanted!
Review: Son of Rambow
Will (Bill Milner) grows up in a religious brethren that forbids television and movies. When he sees a bootleg of First Blood at Carter (Will Poulter)'s house, it inspires his imagination. With Carter obsessed with videos, Will calls himself the son of Rambow (because presumably he doesn't know how to spell the name) and they start making that movie.
That still sounds cool and funny, right? Well, that's only part of it. The tone begins heightened, surreal but logical in the world of what we consider elementary school (in England it's secondary school). Once he sees Rambo, there are glimpses of total fantasy, with visionary effects that are like Tim Burton meets Michel Gondry. It follows the bizarre logic of kids playing, sometimes in character, sometimes in the scene, at their creative whims.
Getting to this point has been slow but forgivable if that's going to be the movie. It's still not. While the kids doing stunts are wild, gloriously imitatable, dangerous gags, it's got all this stuff about neglected kids. Will's go the extreme religious denial of all things modern cult and Carter is left alone with his teenage brother by a mom we never see.
It would be fine if this were just the context for losing themselves in fantasy, but it's the majority of the film if you actually count screen time. It's not anti-religious. It's just showing the importance of having a well rounded life. Nothing can be the ONLY thing in your life, not even God (don't worry, he wants me to say this.) The neglect thing is more obvious, and who really wants to see this traumatized kid go through that, even if his overcompensation can be fun.
It seems like it's trying to be Terabithia for children of the '80s, which is admirable. The fantasy stuff is fantastic enough, but the real world stuff isn't real enough. Who can relate to growing up in a religious cult? And those that can relate to being neglected probably didn't also have access to video equipment that was high tech at the time.
This is not the film geek's dream. There are few specific homages to First Blood. I think they even got the music of the film wrong. They have the rights to show clips, but they play some generic action theme in scenes that were actually somber and contemplative.
It's kind of like Be Kind Rewind. They get the whole community involved in making the film, in this case the school children, but the audience is just waiting through all the "life" scenes to see the funny movie scenes.
The message is well taken. Yeah, kids can get hurt playing, but you don't stop all playing to avoid injuries. You learn how to take care of yourself and grow. The family drama is just boring. Touching, but boring.