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Film / Son of Rambow

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England, 1982.

Meet schoolboy Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), the eccentric but kindhearted son of the beautiful widow Mary Proudfoot (Jessica Hynes), who has a vibrant imagination that could conquer the world. A pity it's suppressed by the fundamentalist sect the Plymouth Brethren, which has entrapped his family for generations. The only outlet for his creativity is an old bible, which he uses to collect a series of elaborate drawings.

Meet delinquent Lee "devil-child" Carter (Will Poulter), a broken and cynical boy of Will's age who is looked after by his apathetic brother while his mother treks through Spain with her new boyfriend. His routine includes vandalism, shoplifting, smoking, making bootleg videos and generally being a menace to show the world how strong he is. He's a miniature Alex DeLarge in the making, but somewhere inside he still wants to be loved.

In spite of their differences, Will and Lee are brought together by a mutual interest in creative expression, and they end up remaking First Blood with nothing more than a cheap camera and a makeshift movie set. By the end of the summer, they become the best of friends.

This film provides the following examples:

  • The '80s: Set in 1982, shortly after the theatrical release of First Blood.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: When Will briefly befriends the superficial, socially popular Didier, he starts to ignore his true friend and former fellow social outcast Lee. This goes on until Lee rescues Will from a life-threatening situation caused by Didier's cowardice.
  • Amusing Injuries: The film follows this trope until drama requires otherwise, and then injuries can turn quite deadly serious.
  • Art Shift: Will's Dream as the son of Rambo.
  • Broken Ace: Didier, the impossibly cool French foreign exchange student, is revealed to be a bit of a coward and not at all admired by his fellow Frenchmen.
  • The Bully:
    • Lee is a bit of a bully with Will and continues to manhandle Will up until the third act, when Didier's posse attacks him in Will's defense.
    • Lee is himself bullied by his brother's friends, showing where he gets it from.
  • Bully Turned Buddy: Lee's friendship with Will.
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: "St. Mary's is just down the road, and they're all Catholic!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Will, sweet Will.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Didier, so beautiful that he has an Unwanted Harem of girls and boys.
  • Everybody Smokes: This being 1982, people are lighting up in the movie theater, including Lee! Didier also smokes.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier if French: Didier the French exchange student is treated like a rock star by the British students, but he seems to be a social outcast among his countrymen.
  • Jerkass: Lee Carter, initially. With a threat to "smash your face in," has Will help make the film. Otherwise downplayed; he can be quite caustic, particularly to Will, but otherwise friendly enough.
  • Jerkass Realization: Lawrence Carter is quite dismissive of his younger brother Lee, and seems more concerned with his smashed camera than with his hospitalised brother. Will then shows Lawrence, on the tape, Lee's furious, tearful defence of Lawrence's honour. To the edited footage, Will and Lawrence add a scene where the Evil Scarecrow turns out to be Colonel Chapman's brother.
    Lawrence: Tell my brother I was... thinking of him... tell him I'm sorry... I haven't been there for him and that, yeah? And say, I know we haven't been much of a family and all that, but... but he's all I've got too.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lee Carter, eventually. Having pulled from the lake non-swimmer Will, sincere concern for his stuntman, and admiration of Will's ideas, genders friendship. Lee is also deeply loyal to his older brother.
  • Metafictional Title: The film gets its name from the film Will and Lee are making during the story.
  • Odd Friendship: Will and Lee are complete opposites, but befriend each other through their joint venture.
  • Parental Abandonment: Will's father died of a stroke. Lee's father left him before he was born, and his mother spends most of her time out of the country.
  • Parody Sue: Didier, the seemingly perfect androgynous stud is just as innocent and immature as other boys his age.
  • Pretty Boy: Didier Revol, a stylish French exchange student fawned over by boys and girls alike.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lee gives one to Will after rescuing him from a dangerous situation caused by False Friend Didier's cowardice. Lee correctly says that Will abandoned a loyal friend who had his back for the sake of being popular as a sidekick of the superficial Didier.
  • Scary Scarecrow: On Will's school route, a field holds a scarecrow with an angry bucket for a head. In a Nightmare Sequence, with a tree branch arm, it grabs Will.
    Evil Scarecrow: Who are you?!!
    Will: ... I am the Son of Rambow! What have you done with my dad?!
  • Shout-Out:
    • First Blood is the catalyst of the film, and numerous scenes are featured.
    • When Lee Carter is being suspended, the teacher shouts at one child named Sam Taylor-Wood.
    • The kids' short film is screened before Yentl
    • Lee was apparently inspired to film his "Screen Test" by the BBC show Screen Test. A few brief scenes of the show are seen, including the moment when Jan Pinkava receives his award.
  • Show Within a Show: Types 1 - the remaking of First Blood.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Lee smokes as part of his bad-boy persona, and Didier smokes because he's an impossibly cool and exotic French kid.
  • Stylistic Suck: The film within a film is obviously the work of amateur school kids.
  • Throw It In!: In Universe. When Lee, during filming, is accidentally hit by Didier, it is explained away by Lee being "a double."
  • Title Drop: The title is proclaimed by Will in the beginning of his dream.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Were it not for his friendship with Will, Lee Carter would never have felt what it was like to be a real little boy.