Son of Rambow

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Son of Rambow Movie Poster Image
Rambunctious UK boys remake First Blood.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Most of the kids shown here stand out for their misbehavior. Wannabe filmmaker and class troublemaker Lee Carter is like Bart Simpson in a lot of ways, right down to living near the nuclear power plant. Will is a deeply religious boy, but also exceedingly gullible and easily led astray (as though that goes hand-in-hand). Ultimately there is an affirmation of friendship and family, but not religious faith; Will's insular Christian sect is cold, male-dominated, and unappealing.

Violence

Children beat up on other kids, one time violently, and blood is drawn. Violence, gunfire, and blood in movie clips from Sylvester Stallone pictures. Knockabout stuff as Will does his own dangerous stunts, like falling from trees, being catapulted aloft, and participating in simulated fistfights and ninja battles. A car accident and hospitalization.

Sex

Some smooching and a school kissing contest is the worst it gets.

Language

"Bastard," "arse," "piss," "s--t," and the uniquely British obscene idiom "bollocks."

Consumerism

If kids don't know about (R-rated) Rambo movies before this, they certainly will afterwards.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underaged smoking and drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is frequent swearing in this comedy, though one of the strongest curse words is mainly British slang; American viewers might not even know it's obscene. The plot concerns the fascination kids have for hyper-macho screen violence, and to emulate their favorite movies, kids smoke, fight, and endanger their lives in backyard stunts. One of the kids, a boy from an ultra-conservative Christian family (who doesn't seem to find much enjoyment in his faith) delights in hanging out with his misbehaving, movie-mad schoolmates. Compared to routine Hollywood demonizations of fundamentalists, the religious community isn't made into monsters, but they're still not shown positively. Two boys perform the less-than-sanitary "blood brothers" ritual.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bymandyrbryant June 11, 2009

Great movie for adults: Fun to discuss with pre-teens

This movie is amazing. If you loved Stand by Me, you'll love this. It's a good coming-of-age movie, that would be interesting to discuss with your kid... Continue reading
Adult Written bylokisf November 6, 2013

Not so family friendly. Funny movie though.

The theme of this story is really good. Unfortunately it is only accomplished through excessive unnecessary foul language, random violence and drug use. Content... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 26, 2014

Amazing movie with good story!

This is a great film with great special effects and lots of action. The acting is also very good and so is also the plot. Many scenes do contain moderate violen... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old August 13, 2010

Cool movie

It had a good story and interesting characters.

What's the story?

SON OF RAMBOW is inspired by filmmaker Garth Jennings' adolescence as an amateur action-moviemaker in mid-1980s England (see his juvenile work as DVD "extras"). The American action hit First Blood and its hero, Rambo, win some hardcore fans in a UK school, primarily class rascal Lee Carter (Will Poulter), whose parents are divorced and who lives/works largely unsupervised at a nursing home. There he copies bootleg VHS tapes of popular movies for his older brother and aspires to enter a BBC junior-filmmaker contest. Lee cons a quiet, shy schoolmate, Will (Bill Milner), into joining his videotape effort as an actor-stuntman in a backyard takeoff on Hollywood action-war flicks. Will also lost a dad -- to a fatal aneurysm -- and by styling himself as "Son of Rambow," he experiences empowering joy in performing and letting his imagination go wild. But Will and his widowed mom belong to a small, strict Christian community, who forbid his "outsider" friends and antics.

Is it any good?

This comedy has a boisterous, high-energy narrative that occasionally morphs into Will's secret daydreams and handmade comics about evil scarecrows and flying dogs. The kids are later able to make these elements "real" in the movie-within-a-movie, showing both a child's joy in exploring filmmaking and imaginary worlds, and a scrawny boy's delight in transforming into a self-sufficient muscleman commando like Rambo.

Still, things get rather hard to follow at times, and a subplot involving a wildly caricatured French exchange student and his sycophants will leave some confused; Is this happening, or is it all in Will's head? While the young actors turn in terrific performances, Will's character seems a little overdone in his childish naivete, and parents in religious households might not like the negative depiction of the latter-day puritans here. Movie puritans, meanwhile, might fume with hellfire and damnation that some of what these boys pull off just wasn't possible with 1980s VHS-tape technology, especially at the ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what movies are special from their childhoods, the way First Blood is here. You might do an Internet search for "the Raiders Guys," real-life men who spent their boyhoods in the 1980s shooting a camcorder remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark with makeshift props and neighborhood actors. Families can also discuss Will. Was being in Lee's homebrew action film a good idea for him or not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate