Son of Rambow (2007)

Starring: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jessica Stevenson, Neil Dudgeon, Jules Sitruk

Directed by: Garth Jennings

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Bill Milner as Will Proudfoot in Son of Rambow

Do you remember the film that changed your life? For sweet little supergeek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) it's First Blood. But then again, it doesn't have much competition, as it's also the only film he's ever seen. Thanks to his strict, Almish-lite upbringing (headscarves and no TV but they've got a car and a telephone), he's not even allowed to watch a documentary in geography class. So when a series of mishaps leads him to the home of school tearaway toughie Lee Carter (Will Poulter) and he gets to watch a wibbly pirate version of Sly in action, his already soaraway imagination is set on fire.

Fortunately for Will, Lee is a budding director whose sole ambition is to win the Screentest young filmmaker competition (yes, Son of Rambow is another '80s flashback fest) and together they come up with the ultimate action movie, Will throwing himself into the ambitious stunts with the fearless aplomb of the completely desperate. But the combination of high octane action, day-long prayer meetings and an influx of cool kidz wanting in on the action proves as explosive as the boys' screenplay.

Lee Carter and Will plot their next move in Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow is a charming, touching, nostalgic and delightfully funny film – although  don't expect a hilarious romp filled with belly laughs: think the bittersweet tragic-comedy of East is East rather than Hot Fuzz. Like Be Kind Rewind remade by the Children's Film Foundation, it celebrates the power of film to spark creativity and bring together disparate souls, to liberate the mind to soar beyond the narrow confines of very day existence – or to provoke small boys to random acts of violence. You decide.

Best of all, with excellent performances from its juvenile leads, Son of Rambow reminds us wonderfully of what it's like to be a kid. While Will and Lee watch their movie unfold through the shaky, mud-spattered lens of their camera, we watch the drama of their lives unravel through the occasionally surreal lens of their heightened senses, so that French exchange students become as exotic and glamorous as film stars and the sixth form common room a forbidden paradise of hedonistic pleasures.

Complete with a stonking soundtrack and superbly OTT '80s styling (although I'm fairly sure not everyone in 1982 looked as if they'd stepped out of a Banarama or Cure video), Son of Rambow is an affectionate tribute to childhood friendship, long hot summers, bright red pixie boots and all the other things that were so much better when we were kids. A real little treat, it's highly unlikely to change your life, but it'll certainly brighten your day.

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