'Son of Rambow': An Unlikely Action Hero A British boys-school hellion and his shy, sheltered patsy make a homegrown sequel to Rambo: First Blood. Garth Jennings' film is cheerfully ramshackle, childishly overstated, and pretty darn appealing.
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'Son of Rambow': An Unlikely Action Hero

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'Son of Rambow': An Unlikely Action Hero

Review

Arts & Life

'Son of Rambow': An Unlikely Action Hero

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Starting today on thousands of movie screens, the Marvel Comics hero Ironman will be saving the world. On just a few screens, a younger, scrappier hero will save a schoolyard in the film "Son of Rambow."

Bob Mondello has this review of that younger hero's story.

BOB MONDELLO: Though British school kids Will and Lee are both about 11 years old, they don't have much else in common. Will is a sheltered lad whose religious upbringing forbids TV-watching and all sorts of other sinful stuff. Lee is a little hellion, constantly in trouble.

One day Lee gets Will in trouble, and when they're sent together to the principal's office, decides to takes advantage of Will's relative inexperience.

(Soundbite of movie "Son of Rambow")

Mr. WILL POULTER (Actor): (As Lee Carter) I don't mind taking the blame for this, if you like, but if I'll do, you ah - might have to give me something in return.

Mr. BILL MILNER (Actor): (As Will Proudfoot) Fair enough.

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Probably don't mind getting a letter sent home and being tortured.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) Oh, yeah. Last time she tortured me, could barely stand up for a week. Pain like you'd never believe. Doctor said they must have to amputate it off.

(Soundbite of buzzer)

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Well, can't keep the lady waiting, can we?

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) I'll pray for you, Lee Carter.

MONDELLO: Lee fakes a limp on his way back out and claims Will's wristwatch as payment for his sacrifice, also a promise that Will will be a stuntman for Lee's secret project, an amateur version of Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo: First Blood" that he's making with his brother's video camera.

Now, Rambo is quite an introduction to movies for a kid who's never seen one. And Will is devout enough to find the whole notion guilt-inducing for about three seconds, after which he's smearing himself with dirt and leaping from trees.

(Soundbite of movie "Son of Rambow")

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Great. Cut.

(Soundbite of boy shouting)

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Wait. What are you doing?

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) I am the son of Rambo.

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Oh, you want to be the son of Rambo.

MONDELLO: A sequel is born and grows bigger when Will spills the beans and half the school wants in on the action, including an exotic French exchange student in red pointy boots who may be the world's least likely ninja warrior.

(Soundbite of movie "Son of Rambow")

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) Good morning, Didier.

Mr. JULES SITRUK: (As Didier Revol) Good morning.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) Get back to work.

(Soundbite of explosion)

Mr. POULTER (As Lee Carter): Yeah.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) Perfect, Lee Carter.

MONDELLO: A little movie that could acquires sets, costumes and a cast of maybe a dozen. And Lee, whose dream it was, loses control of it and of his temper.

(Soundbite of movie "Son of Rambow")

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) (Unintelligible).

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) He's driving the Jeep in the getaway scene.

r. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Yeah, but I traveling, I'm driving the jeep.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) You can't drive.

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) All right then. Well, if I'm not needed, I'll be taking my camera back then.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) You promised.

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Yeah. And what would you know about promises, little brother?

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) Don't push it.

Mr. POULTER: (As Lee Carter) Yeah. You need to grow up.

Mr. MILNER: (As Will Proudfoot) You drew first blood and you're a head case.

MONDELLO: If Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had had access to a camcorder they might well have dreamed up the adventures in this movie-besotted movie. Writer, director Garth Jennings sets it in the 1980s, a time when, as it happens, he was about 11. He's given the story some texture with non-cinema-related stuff — about bullying, childhood insecurity, religious family pressures, and a loss of innocence. Mostly though, he's made the "Son of Rambow" film you're seeing feel a lot like the Son of Rambow film-within-a-film that the kids are making, cheerfully ramshackle, childishly overstated and pretty darn appealing. I'm Bob Mondello.

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