Friday, February 6, 2009

Son of Rambow (2008)

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Films with a primarily pre-pubescent cast are behind the eight-ball from the start. Toss in British humor and the remaining audience willing to watch such a film is sparse. But Son of Rambow is more than just a comedy for kids, its a tribute to youthful adventure and the spirit of creativity. The film stars Bill Milner as Will Proudfoot, a young boy raised in a overwhelmingly strict religious household in 1980s Britain. Will's mother keeps him in check both at home and at school, and his life of constant order has made him extremely shy and quiet. A bully in his grade, Lee Carter, played by Will Poulter, saves him from trouble one day by taking the blame in the principal's office. In return, Carter demands that Milner act and assist in creating his homemade full length feature "Son of Rambow." The situations and drama that ensue is a mixed bag of hearty laughs and predictable plot twists, all spiced with British dialogue and humor. Poulter and Milner, both in their acting debuts, deliver solid performances considering the circumstances, and the friend/foe chemistry between them drives the plot quite a ways. Director Garth Jennings guides the cast of mostly children into believable performances, and his witty script is both deadpan and satirical. Jennings love for film-making is apparent in the detailed references Lee Carter espouses in his quest to make a full-length movie. The story is cute and there is plenty to laugh at, but the final third of the movie devolves into typical children's movie conclusions most everyone has seen far too many times. The film is much more effective in highlighting artistic passion and exploration than familial relationships and decision making. The energy and playfulness of the film can only carry the story so far, however, before it becomes more of the same. Jennings has improved over his dreadful interpretation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Son of Rambow still leaves something to be desired. Expect to see more of Poulter and Milner, however, as their onscreen tag-team is reminiscent of a young Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

Good for: British comedy fans, parents with children, film-makers

Bad for: people who don't like kids, those who don't get British humor (humour)

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