Two Cents Draws First Blood with SON OF RAMBOW

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

Sylvester Stallone movies tend to have long tails on them. The Rocky franchise continues to grow and change and inspire, while movies like Tango & Cash and Cobra continue to epitomize a very singular kind of excess. Even his flops, like Over the Top, maintain weird cultural footholds. And then there’s Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot!, considered by many critics to be the greatest comedy of the last 50 years (citation needed).

And then there’s Rambo, John J.

What started as a mid-budget character drama with an ending hastily reshot to undo the protagonist’s suicide, which opened to a fairly middling critical reception, became an unlikely franchise-launcher. Rambo became so synonymous with bloated muscles, massive weaponry, and the indiscriminate slaughter of all non-Americans, that it’s easy to forget that the original film is a deliberately paced, deeply somber meditation on the mistreatment of Vietnam veterans, with only one onscreen death and fairly down-to-earth pyrotechnics.

But that down-to-earth nature makes First Blood the perfect fodder for the boys trying to come of age in Thatcher’s England in Son of Rambow. There’s Will, (Bill Milner) growing up in a cloistered religious order and forbidden all TV and film, and Lee, (Will Poulter) a local ‘bad’ boy armed with a camcorder and determined to make his own movies with Will as his stuntman.

When circumstance brings the boys together, they begin working together to create their own version of the spectacle they witnessed in First Blood. Soon their efforts get the attention of the rest of the school, and these unlikeliest of filmmakers start creating their own cinematic magic.

Directed by Garth Jennings, drawing from his own experiences as a young man in the ’80s when video equipment newly available, Son of Rambow charmed the pants off just about everyone who saw it in 2007 and launched the careers of Milner and Poulter. With Rambo: Last Blood seeming to bring the blood-soaked Green Beret’s story to a conclusion, (operative word: “seeming”) we decided to reflect on a film that reflects on those films.

Join us as we go to war with Son of Rambow.

Next Week’s Pick:

Cinapse is all full-up with Fantastic Fest goodness, so we’ll be skipping next week. But keep an eye on the @CinapseNews twitter feed for when we announce our very special line-up of Halloween-themed picks for October. See you then!

The Team

Brendan Foley

I’m on the record as being thoroughly unimpressed by Jennings’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptation, and being only fitfully amused by his animated movie, Sing. So I always took the hype around Son of Rambow with something of a grain of salt.

Nah, it’s legitimately great. The kids are all perfectly cast, the homemade aesthetic of their movie and their imaginings is crazy-delightful, and Jennings injects so much color and vigor into the proceedings that helps it stand out from the other coming-of-age pictures out there.

I could do without some of the contortions and melodramatics of the film’s second half where Jennings manufactures friction between his two leads, but the whole film is just so overwhelmingly lovable that these minor speed-bumps are no concern whatsoever. (@TheTrueBrendanF)

Justin Harlan:

From the look of the reviews of Last Blood, it seems this week’s selection is likely a far better way to spend our time than spending $15 at the multiplex this weekend… especially when it’s free for all to watch on Tubi for the rest of the month.

In his first film, the up and coming young actor Will Poulter (Midsommar, Maze Runner, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) was already a star in the making at 13. As the pre-teen troublemaker Lee, Poulter shines in this often harder edged family film. Paired with another talented youngster, Bill Milner (X-Men: First Class, The Lodgers, Apostle), the two create a fantastic duo in a fun coming-of-age tale that captures what it’s like growing up and the importance of imagination.

Can’t believe I waited this long to check this one out. It’s a really fun one and it’s right up my alley as a genre film fan and coming-of-age junkie who grew up in the 80s and 90s. (@thepaintedman)

Austin Vashaw:

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but something about the title and poster of Son of Rambow always struck me as being a documentary and I never realized this was an actual “movie movie”.

Which may be why, like my colleagues, I haven’t seen it. Turns out, it’s a coming of age comedy — and a pretty great one at that! Will Poulter is the standout as Lee, the misunderstood “bad kid” at school whose angst derives from a broken home life. But it’s the other protagonist, the shielded Will (Bill Millner) with an overbearing mother, with whom I completely relate. (You can draw a direct line from my childhood restrictions to my grownup appreciation for movies).

They’re a motley pair but maybe that’s why their friendship is genuine, and bonding over a common interest — like making a dope camcorder action movie — certainly rings true of how these things often work. (Austin Vashaw)

Stay tuned for our announcements for October’s TRICK OR TREAT lineup!!

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