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Poulter (left) and Milner

Sly project

Movies | An unlikely friendship propels satirical plot

Issue: "Return of the Lion," May 17, 2008

If Rambo had been the first piece of popular culture you came into contact with, you might be a little screwed up too. Son of Rambow (rated PG-13 for some violence and reckless behavior) is a British coming-of-age comedy that follows a young boy's quest to be Britain's next (first?) Sylvester Stallone-esque action hero.

Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is a young boy shielded from the world by his widowed mother (Jessica Hynes). Active in the Plymouth Brethren church, Mary Proudfoot forbids her son to watch television, listen to popular music, or fraternize with children outside the Brethren. So when Will follows class bully Lee Carter (Will Poulter) home and stumbles across a bootleg copy of Rambo, his reaction is a little extreme.

He imagines himself as Rambo's son and, together with Lee, begins filming a low-budget sequel of his rescue of Rambo. Creating outlandish scenes and lies to explain his whereabouts to his strict family and church body, Will begins an unlikely friendship with Lee.

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Set in early '80s Britain, the film revels in satirizing new-wave music and its stylings. A French exchange student named Didier Revol goes in for particularly thorough treatment. When he gets involved in making Son of Rambow, the intrusion threatens to disrupt the film and the growing friendship between Will and Lee.

But the real scapegoat is the Plymouth Brethren. They are portrayed as inexplicably closed-minded, but their only use is to justify Will's blank slate reaction to Rambo. Son of Rambow seems uninterested in the fact that most any mother would be disturbed to see that her son allows his emotionally disturbed friend to shoot darts at his head or drops himself into lakes from great heights.

The pending results of the energy the boys put into their project propels the film's momentum. Son of Rambow proves that it's impressive when these efforts succeed, and sometimes even better when they don't.

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