Son of Rambow (2008)
Son of Rambow (2008)

Genre: Adventure and Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.

Release Date: April 4th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Garth Jennings Actors: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Neil Dudgeon, Jessica Stevenson, Anna Wing, Tallulah Evans, Emile Chesnais, Paul Ritter, Finola McMahon

 


 

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hat could have been a fairly straightforward story of friendship, defiance, and creativity becomes an outlandish ride through comic absurdity. This is largely thanks to a bevy of inventively abnormal characters clashing with the notions of order and routine adulthood. A kids’ movie with a mix of laugh-out-loud moments and weirdly clever ones, “Son of Rambow” plays out like an “Eagle vs Shark” in Terabithia, where unconventional morals collide with redeeming themes and several extremely overactive imaginations.

Sheltered to the point of solitude by an overprotective mother and a smothering religion, young William (Bill Milner) resorts to expressing his creativity in elaborate illustrations – in unlikely places. His diminutive world is forever changed when he crosses paths with school troublemaker Lee Carter (Will Poulter), who bullies him into helping film an amateur action movie. Initially reluctant, his outlook changes after unintentionally viewing a bootlegged tape of “First Blood.” The explosive violence and unrestrained mayhem ignites Will’s imagination, allowing an unlikely friendship to form when the mismatched duo sets about making “Son of Rambow.”

The storyline follows a rather predictable progression, but what makes the film unique is the multitude of exaggerated stereotypes and off-the-wall characters. Will’s heavily-shielded childhood has created an introvert desperate to escape the confines of his lifestyle, fueling alternating patterns of oddness and innocence. On the other end of the spectrum is Carter, who is a conniving and obnoxious terror in almost every way. Clearly a product of his disruptive upbringing, he rebels against authority as often as possible and scoffs at the idea of conforming to a system. Both boys suffer from a common ailment – the lack of a father figure and a stable home. Complementing these two are several conflicted characters whose irregularities easily rival their own. Most notably is Didier (Jules Sitruk), a French foreign exchange student whose outrageous style and attitude awes the English boys into forming a cult of followers. Even many of the teachers and the no-nonsense Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon) seem infused with peculiar traits in their personalities.

While the most recognizable themes of staying true to one’s heart and the power of friendship readily exist on the surface, more unconventional morals frequent the underlying plot. In this offbeat tale of growing up, rebellion is viewed as a comical and necessary implement for combating the evils of order. Religion is shown as a suppressing tool of control, confining both creativity and the imagination, as well as forbidding socialization with those outside the faith. Rarely in children’s movies do viewers see religion as the villain and insurrection as the key to success.

Paralleling the hyperactive visions of youth, the fantastical characters and events are both the highlight of the film and it’s only downside. So often the visuals and madcap occurrences will leave audiences torn between laughing or raising an eyebrow in total bewilderment. In the end, this refreshingly bizarre take on the delirium of maturation entertains with its uncommon characters, wild antics, and the bond between wayward youths finding their places in life. Plus, seeing a dead crow knock a kid off his bike never fails to amuse.

– Joel Massie

  • 7/10