Under the appellation Hammer & Tongs, Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith created the best music video of all time â€” for Blur’s song "Coffee and TV." (Any arguments to the contrary on this subject will bounce off our ears like cell phones off the head off our imaginary assistant.) Jennings and Goldsmith, acting respectively as director and producer, made their film debut with 2005’s flashy and terribly disappointing "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy." With "Son of Rambow," they’ve created something closer to the spirit and charm of their video work, a harmless, enjoyable trifle you could quite possibly take your kids to see, which may account for some of the $8 million Paramount reportedly dropped acquiring the film for distribution.
"Son of Rambow" is set in the 80s and, more importantly, during that period in your youth when there’s less of a filter between your interior and exterior worlds, and when a film like "First Blood" could leave such an impression as to necessitate an immediate reenactment of the cooler scenes while providing your own sound effects â€” "Pow! Pow! Pow! WaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaah!" By the 80s, you could also, through the miracle of the camcorder, records your efforts, which is what "Son of Rambow"’s pair of misfits ends up doing. Will (Bill Milner) was raised as a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a strict Christian denomination that disavows modern dress and TV watching â€” a withdrawn outcast, he spends his day in the world of his own drawings. Carter (Will Poulter) is a freckled would-be hoodlum, constantly getting thrown out of class, chain-smoking and stealing anything not nailed down. The two find common ground and eventual best friendship when Carter unintentionally exposes Will to his first motion picture, a bootleg copy of "First Blood." Will is enraptured, and Carter has stumbled on the perfect star for the hilariously ambitious DIY action movie he hopes to submit to a young filmmakers competition.
Thick with whimsical visual gags ("Rushmore" cut a bit of a swath through Sundance 2007), 80s references and well-placed pathos, "Son of Rambow" works because of its leads: Milner is wide-eyed and utterly without guile, while Poulter is not unlike Benny Hill squashed into the body of a ten-year-old. Neither panders for the sake of cuteness; both approach their roles with a certitude that’s a reminder that even in the depths of childhood, you never think of yourself as a child.
"Son of Rambow" will be released by Paramount Vantage, presumably sometime this year.
+ "Son of Rambow" (Sundance)