★★★ Inspired by First Blood, two pre-teen boys set out to make their own action film. Lee Carter (Will Poulter), runs the camera. He's the proverbial bad influence who we first see smoking and bootlegging First Blood in the movie theater.
Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) comes from a very conservative, almost puritanical family that belongs to a religious order called The Brethren, who are working to protect their pious way of life. Will is the kid who has to leave the class when the teacher shows films, including documentaries. His mother is leery about these outside influences and worried about losing him to what she calls, "the outsiders."
These family values are meant to keep the outside world at bay, but nothing can contain Will's imagination. We see this through his drawings and flip books he's created in secret. Even a bathroom stall at school is literally covered wall to wall in his drawings. His creative energy can't be bottled up or repressed. And when Will meets Lee, he sees another artistic outlet in filmmaking. And Lee finally has finally met someone crazy enough to be his stuntman.
There's an early shot in the film when Lee and Will meet that is shot really well. Will is sitting in the hall while his class is watching a documentary. Lee is kicked out of class for misbehavior. Will spies Lee and leans back behind a bookcase to keep to himself. The camera leans back as well and we want nothing more than to peek out and see if Lee is still there. When we finally do, there's a nice surprise as Will is hit in the head with something Lee throws at him. It's a wonderful long take and the camera movement is spot on.
It's after Will sees Lee's bootleg copy of First Blood that the two become a movie making duo. This is the first film Will has ever seen and it blows his mind. He runs home at full speed fighting off invisible enemies, and when he encounters a scarecrow the filmmakers take us inside his mind and we watch as he fights off the scarecrow and other baddies that appear in an art style similar to his own. It's a superbly funny sequence.
Will has no sense of danger and gets completely absorbed in making the film. The stunts the two pull off are just shy of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The film lets us off the hook in worrying about he boys safety and lets their ambitious spirits run wild.
There's a party in the film that is a lot of fun. It's a middle school party, and in any other film the kids would be doing things kids shouldn't be doing. But this party avoids all the cliches and instead is filled with temporary tattoos, pop rocks and Coke.
Lee and Will work on their film and some animosity arises between them, almost in romantic comedy fashion. We eventually see the boys' finished film. It's not as satisfying as I would have liked it to be, but it helps to wrap up everything before the credits. Son of Rambow does get too sappy for its own good at the end, but it's an under-seen film that's worth a look.