Sunday, April 13, 2008

Son of Rambow! Finally, I really like a movie!

Son of Rambow is such a wonderful motion picture, I wanted to give it a great big hug after it was over. It's heartwarming without any treacle, it's hilarious without resorting to cheap gags, and it's genuine. Son of Rambow will quickly become a favorite movie of any dork (like myself) who dreamed big as a kid and used movie making as an outlet.

Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is an adorable and sad young boy. His father had a stroke and passed away. His family belongs to a religion called The Plymouth Brethren, which forbids television, movies, and music of popular culture. Will has never seen a moving picture in his entire life, but he has a huge imagination and fills the pages of his text books with drawings to the point that you can't see the text anymore.

Fate intervenes when Will encounters Lee Carter (Will Poulter). Carter is the troubled kid in school, always in and out of the principal's office. Events bring these two unlikely kids together, with Carter taking advantage of Will's good nature. Carter lives in a retirement home (his mother is never around) and works for his brother bootlegging movies with his VHS camera. The latest film to come through town? First Blood. (It should be noted the film takes place in the early 80s).

Will sees First Blood and his mind is blown. He and Carter decide to join forces and make a film with the camera and resources they have. The film Will wants to make? Son of Rambow. (Will is unaware of the proper spelling of Rambo). The two form a friendship making the film, despite the growing consequences of WIll's new passion conflicting with the Brethren's beliefs, creating much tension between Will and his mother. (Jessica Stevenson, from Spaced!)

Eventually, other kids from the school come on board to join these outcasts, most notably the French exchange student that all the other kids think is the coolest. (He wants to be a movie star, and even has prop guns). Does this drive a rift between Will and Carter? You need to see the film and discover that for yourself.

What makes Son of Rambow so damn good is that even though it's filled with whimsy, it's British whimsy, which is always less insulting to your intelligence. Written and directed by Garth Jennings (he of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame), Son of Rambow has some wonderfully fanciful moments and manages to keep it strictly grounded. The problems of Carter and Will are very real, which only makes the accomplishment of their filmmaking that more important.

It's interesting to note the similarities between Son of Rambow and Be Kind Rewind. Both films center their stories on misfits and outsiders coming together to make a movie for a greater purpose. And both make tremendous use of the filmmakers' creative solutions in recreating scenes with the materials available to them. Where Rambow differs is that the joy stems from the minds of children, where the only limit is their own imaginations.

I heart this movie with a passion reserved for few things. It's the first great movie I've seen all year, and my favorite of all that I've seen. It's smart, sweet, funny, and above all made with love and affection for these characters. You want these boys to succeed, and to eventually make Son of Rambow 2. And I would be first in line to see it.

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