A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: April 4, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: August 25, 2008
- Cast: Bill Milner, Jessica Stevenson, Will Poulter
- Director: Garth Jennings
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and reckless behavior
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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