Kids. Don’t you just love ‘em? Well, if you were to read back over last year's Simpsons review you’d discover the answer. There were some kids in this year’s Rambo, but the things that happened to them weren’t very nice. Was Son of Rambow going to follow the same lines, but with uglier detail? Alas no - it is instead a story of kids in 80s England, forging friendships and making their own film. Look, they even spelt his name wrong in the title. Bless.
Son of Rambow combines aspects seen in many other films. There’s the joy and creativity of making your own film (Gondry’s Bekind Rewind), the growing friendship between quiet loner and bad boy (Stand By Me), the pained relationship between big and little brothers (Kes - albeit this is thankfully cheerier) and the pitfalls of having a French exchange student come to visit (Slap her, she’s French). Ok, maybe not the last one.
We have mouse-boy Will (Bill Milner), a softly spoken, kind-hearted loner who loves to draw and whose imagination runs riot. He meets naughty Lee (Will Poulter), a right cock-er-ny straight out of Oliver-cor-blimey, who is good at heart but still a bit of a shit. Will’s family is pretty loaded, however, and he has himself a camcorder and a love of Rambo. The boys start to make their own version, using a myriad of clever devices and an impressive, if not unbelievable knack of being able to edit together a massive amount of footage, add in quality sound without even using proper sound recording equipment, and create a piece of film that looks like a professional has tried to make something that looks like non-professionals have made it. Or something.
With side-stories of mouse-boy’s struggle against his oddly religious family (with mother played superbly by Jessica Stevenson) and the usual jealousies and misunderstandings that can occur with friendships across social boundaries, Son of Rambow is a bog-standard drama, with whimsical humour and some slightly pointless but amusing sub-plots.
It’s sweet and easy to watch (although does drag in places) but its point is unclear and either clichéd or underdeveloped. Heart-warming, yes. But by only dabbling in its numerous themes we only get a dabble of comedy, a dabble of amateur filmmaking, a dabble of meatier social issues, etc etc. As such, though it was enjoyable, it only had a dabble of an impact. I’m well aware you can’t get a dabble of anything, dabble being a verb, but I’ve got the word in my head now and as it’s akin to dribble, I thought I’d try using it. Sorry - a dabble of digression there. Anyway, nice to watch but nothing more, Son of Rambow gets a dabble of a CF0.