Son of Rambow, set in 1980's England, tells the story of two young schoolboys making a home-video addition to the Rambo series. This promising theme gives rise to one of the most hilarious comedies in recent cinema, memorable not only for countless laugh-out-loud moments but also for its engaging and unexpectedly moving story.
Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) are a chalk and cheese pairing, thrown together by chance after being summoned to detention at school. Will, from a fatherless family in the grip of the austerely religious Brethren, is a heart-warmingly polite boy harbouring a boundlessly artistic imagination; Carter, from a parentless household, is a lonely rebel with a total lack of respect for everyone except his astoundingly self-absorbed brother, marvellously played by Ed Westwick. And yet, following their chance encounter, the situation where naïve and amiable Will is exploited by sharp-witted and seemingly cynical Carter is replaced by mounting empathy and friendship between the two, alternately spurred and severed by their family backgrounds and their turbulent film-making.
The two leads are remarkable debut actors, making the story touching and believable and realising the film's comic potential. Poulter is hilarious in the role of Carter, delivering stinging wit and outraged putdowns with aplomb. The shooting of the film provides some hysterical contrasts between grown-up pretensions and childlike absurdity, with gun-battle sequences ripped straight from 'Rambo: First Blood' interspersed with footage of a flying dog attack.
The overlapping secondary story, portraying the school-playground infatuation with the New Wave style of French exchange student Didier, is also a rich seam of humour; the stinging parody of teenage culture culminates in Will and Carter's visit to the school common room, populated by posing, pogoing teens. The supporting cast of adults also includes some fine comic actors, including Jessica Stevenson (notably of TV comedy Spaced) and Adam (of the Adam and Joe Show fame).
Writer-director Garth Jennings skilfully weaves together the overlapping worlds of children, teenagers and adults in this film with excellent dialogue and cinematography. The camera-work is striking in many places, particularly the opening montage of front gardens, with Lee riding his bike past and casually causing havoc. The film also benefits from its bubbly soundtrack, composed by Joby Talbot. This is a superb comedy and definitely the best Rambo film ever.
Despite the fact that the film is endorsed by Sylvester Stallone, the star of the Rambo series, the "W" in the title is added because of legal reasons. At the very end of the closing credits Carter's voice-over points out that 'Rambo' is not spelled with a 'w' as Will state 'Oh OK' and Carter answers "It's still good though".