VOD film review: Son of Rambow
Ivan Radford | On 10, May 2014
Director: Garth Jennings
Cast: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Hynes
Watch Son of Rambow online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Cheerful, cute and charming. That’s not how you’d describe Sylvester Stallone. His illegitimate offspring, though, is all three. Otherwise known as Will (Bill Milner), he’s a schoolboy raised by the stern and restricting Plymouth Brethren. He’s not allowed to watch TV, has no friends, and spends all day colouring in his Bible. So when his humdrum existence collides with the hard knock life of a bullied younger brother, Lee Carter (Will Poulter), it’s no wonder that seeing bloodthirsty Sly in action (on a forbidden VHS) pushes Will just over the edge of crazy – and right into Lee’s ambitions to make his own movies.
Stripping down to scrubby vest, Will runs around with a tie on his head, screaming his face off. “I am the Son of Rambow!” he cries, dodging evil scarecrows on a quest to save his incarcerated dad. He obeys Lee Carter (a name he always says in full) to the letter, swinging and catapulting across lakes and woods with fearless fervour, while Carter records it on a camera. It’s undeniably endearing – and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.
Writer/director Garth Jennings returned from the frontiers of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to bring us this tale, his intended debut feature. Based upon his own childhood, the tale is believable thanks to the cast’s enthusiasm. Milner is likeable, while Poulter, making his screen debut, steals the show with the charisma and comic timing that has seen him go on to star in bigger pictures.
As much about friendship as it is amateur filmmaking, our two half-pint heroes do pathos without going into overdrive, resulting in a childlike charm that is hard to resist. At times, these two might be committing piracy, but they’re the cutest pirates ever. Subtle support, too, from Spaced’s Jessica Hynes as Will’s mum, keeps the emotional side from becoming sickly.
Moments of creativity rival Michel Gondry’s eye for flair, as flick book flights of fantasy take over the screen with frantic scribbling and stop-motion insanity. Add in a ridiculous French kid (Sitruk) and Eric Sykes as a senile Rambo and these 90 minutes will make you giddy as a schoolboy on a sugar high. When one child turns and asks “Is that a flying dog?” you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Short, simple, sweet. Son of Rambow is all three in bucket loads.