Playfully funny film perfect for your inner child
When I was a little boy, the television was kept in its own room, and I wasn’t allowed to watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or “Batman” or “GI Joe.” But it didn’t matter. I couldn’t get enough of “Winnie the Pooh.”
Until I saw my first episode of “Star Trek.”
After that, I and my sole friend at the time spent all day running around pretending we were in spaceships, building “computers,” teleporting to different planets, and terrorizing classmates who were trying to eat.
So I feel a special connection to “Son of Rambow,” a comedy set in 1982 about a sheltered little British boy who accidentally sees “First Blood” and gets caught up in making a sequel with, yes, his only friend.
Complicating matters, the family of the first boy, Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), is part of the Plymouth Brethren, a strict and puritanical religious community. The other boy, Lee Carter (Will Poultner), is a hellraiser outcast.
What the two do have in common is troubled family lives - Will saw his father collapse and die of a brain aneurysm while mowing the lawn, and Lee’s mother and father have both essentially abandoned him, leaving him in the care of his bitter, selfish older brother.
So they have much to escape from - and what an escape it is! Will sets out the plot of their film in drawings that fill dozens of notebooks (and spill over into reality in whimsical CG). His charge: to rescue his father, Rambo, from the evil scarecrow and its minion the flying dog (a guide dog statuette glued to a kite).
Eventually a cool French exchange student, Didier (Jules Sitruk), decides out of boredom to join the production and brings his hangers-on with him. This - and efforts by Will’s church to keep him from going “to the outside” - drive the two friends apart until the dangerous finale.
Though the film shows little boys doing extremely dangerous stunts, it also depicts the consequences. Son of Rambow doesn’t shy away from exposing its audience to the real world, but it’s probably best for older children, with a parental conversation afterwards.
Who knows where the producer-director team Hammer & Tongs found such universally brilliant child actors, but they all put in utterly believable performances: playful, blustery, vulnerable and funny.
I knew I was sold when the Wolf (played by Didier) knocks out a team of ninjas, turns to Will and says, “Salut, son of Rambo. I will help you find your daddy man.” To which our hero replies, “Oh! Thanks ever so much.”
If you’ve ever escaped into the world of imagination, you owe it to your inner child to see Son of Rambow.
By Ben Applegate [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Will Poultner, left, and Bill Milner play unlikely friends in “Son of Rambow.” [CineSeoul]