Every so often a film is made that really feels like it taps into why you yourself are a cinema lover. One of the plot devices that finds a way straight to my heart is a film about the love of film and the creation of films, which is why I adore recent ones like Be Kind Rewind and Super 8. The imagination in these movies is endearing and inspiring but even more so when it’s a group of kids discovering their art. Ten years ago this week, director Garth Jennings released his second film Son Of Rambow, a movie that is just that in a nutshell. Two kids banding together to make the one project that drives them and fuels them creatively or remakes it in this case as their obsession is Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood.
The story at its base is as simple as that. When you get on a deeper level with the characters it starts to open up more. Set in the 1980s, at the height of John Rambo’s popularity, our lead is Will, the oldest child of a single mother in a Plymouth Brethren family. The Brethren refer to themselves as God’s “chosen ones” and have a strict morality which keeps them isolated from television, movies and, to some degree, people. Everything changes in Will life when he crosses paths with the local bully Lee. Through a volatile first meeting, Will discover that Lee likes to make odd home movies and has a dream to recreate his favorite action film. After being shown a bootleg copy of First Blood, Lee easily convinces Will to be his stuntman and main star but must keep it secret from the rest of the Brethren.
Garth Jennings went from making his first feature film, the adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which had a budget of about $50 million dollars, to this film made for a more modest $4.5 million. The style and ambition of Jennings is still on display as Son Of Rambow is a script he wrote alongside his longtime creative partner Nick Goldsmith, developed and written long before Hitchhiker’s Guide went into production. You could almost equate the filmmaking relationship between Will and Lee to Jennings and Goldsmith, who collectively call themselves “Hammer & Tongs”, which leads to even more inspiration. Stick together with that person that you feel most creative with and your project will be brought into reality.
Son Of Rambow is a film I revisit every few years as it is a mood improver and a gentle nudge to keep on the path of being driven to create. The story is a timeless one of two underdogs, fighting against their own establishment, childhood stereotypes and authority figures to achieve their dreams and, honestly, it’s a wholesome message that I need every now and then. The fact that it also includes one of my favorite childhood movies ever also helps sell this movie as one for me. I also did my share of First Blood cosplay and re-enactment. No, I don’t have pictures.