There are plenty of movies about making movies, not the least of which includes the much beloved “Singin’ in the Rain,” the Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!” and famed Italian director Federico Fellini’s “8 ½.”
Audiences love this – little glimpses into the world of Hollywood, or into the filmmaking process in general. Although there are more young people picking up a camera (or their phone) and calling themselves filmmakers than ever before, for most people, the idea of making a movie is still exciting and magical.
“Son of Rambow” is a great example of this, highlighting the pure joy of filmmaking from the perspective of two unlikely friends – one a sheltered boy raised by The Brethren, a puritanical religious sect that forbids music and television, and the other the school’s resident bully, who is determined to make his movie in time for a local festival.
A hidden gem set in the 80s in Britain, “Son of Rambow” is mostly a tale of friendship and coming of age, with Will Proudfoot and Lee Carter, the sheltered boy and the ‘bully,’ respectively, discovering who they are and letting their imaginations run wild in a world of adults that tries to limit them, or perhaps doesn’t show them the love they deserve.
It feels a lot like “Jojo Rabbit” – beautifully costumed and colored, hilarious, touching, and full of truly absurd stunts and action sequences. It’s a feel-good movie with mixed reviews, some critics praising its silliness and moments of dark comedy, while others deem it meandering and unfocused, packed with too many predictable ‘kid-pic’ clichés for one movie. I’m here to argue that if you just open your heart to it and don’t take it too seriously, you’ll be moved no matter how cynical you are about life.
Lee Carter, the tough kid who forces the poor isolated Will Proudfoot to be the stuntman for his film, turns out to be a lonely fatherless kid, just like Will, putting up a front to protect himself. The two find solace in each other and in their world of film and make-believe.
Their film is meant to be a sequel to Sylvester Stallone’s “First Blood,” with Will as the (you guessed it) son of Rambo. After watching a pirated copy of the classic action-thriller, Will’s mind is blown, and he is sucked into the movie magic, willingly participating in stunts that usually crash and burn, literally. But this prompts the most memorable phrase in the film, which makes me smile even now: “I’m alright, Lee Carter!”
The stunts involve flying dogs, evil scarecrows, and even the ultra-cool French exchange student Didier Revol, who may or may not come between Director Carter and his right-hand man Will. But you’ll have to find that out on your own.
If you consider yourself a lover of cinema, “Son of Rambow” is a treasure, filled with the unbridled optimism and enthusiasm of childhood that we could all use right now.