T&C Review: Son of Rambow


The trailer made this film look pretty good.  Set in the 1980s, two young kids goofing off, having juvenile pretend-military and film-making adventures.  As a wee lad, I loved to put on CF Combat Dress (with the helmet and proper Mk 82 webbing, no less), grab the air rifle and go gallivanting through the big ravine next door, so the premise of this flick seems tailor-made for me.

Alas, it suffers from two major problems.

First, it is loaded with every semi-biographical kid-flick cliche one can imagine.  The protagonists are unlikely pals and, initially, antagonists.  One kid is a quiet, Artistic Kid (Bill Milner) raised by Quakers.  Artistic Kid has no other pals at school; check.  Artistic kid’s Quaker Zealot Mom forbids him from watching television, or participating in any kind of fun activity, ever; check.  Artistic Kid is just waiting for some other outsider archetype to meet up with and have fun, predictable, emotional growth adventures!  Yawn.

The other main protagonist is a scheming bully (Will Poulter) with a penchant for petty larceny, alternately harassed or ignored by his older brother.  Bully Kid and Older Brother are well-provisioned, materially, but clearly have Absent Parent issues.  Bully Kid looks up to Older Brother—who barely acknowledges his existence; check.  Bully Kid has wisecracking humour and ability to outsmart Authority Figures several decades his senior; check.  Bully Kid has the smarts to make something of his life, but lacks motivation.  Maybe motivation will come along courtesy of an unlikely friendship… ZzZzZZZzzz.

The second major problem is that the film is 96 minutes long and fully one-quarter of it is boring character-establishment shite—not juvenile filmmaking and not juvenile pretend-military adventures.  I’m sorry to say my patience ran out at 24 minutes and 24 seconds into the film, and I had not yet seen kids running around the woods or filming dangerous but amusing stunts.

I give Hammer & Tongs some props for trying to craft an indie movie with what should have been a fun premise; there are probably very few males alive who don’t recall boyhood re-enactment of favourite movie scenes.  I should also point out that the young actors responsible for portraying the boys were talented—Will Poulter particularly—and certainly the movie’s lame pacing is no fault of theirs.  I really wanted to like this film, but ultimately the opening half-hour didn’t grab my interest at all.

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