Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Stevenson, Neil Dudgeon, Ed Westwick, Anna Wing
Written by: Garth Jennings
Directed by: Garth Jennings
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and reckless behavior
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/22/2007

Son of Rambow (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Friend or Yo!

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Quiet kid Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), whose single mother has raised him within the confines of a strict religious cult, meets troublemaker Lee Carter (Will Poulter), whose absent parents have put his self-serving brother in charge. Inspired by a bootleg tape of First Blood (1982), Lee uses his brother's video camera to shoot a movie with Will as the star and the executor of dangerous stunts. Soon a French exchange student, Didier (Jules Sitruk) who has enchanted the entire school, joins them. Set in the early 1980s in England, and directed by Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), the film flatly ignores any kind of joy-of-filmmaking themes and instead takes the standard coming-of-age route. The two kids learn from each other, have a falling out and re-emerge as stronger, more complete people. The main draw is the homemade video, which is ludicrously fictional, from the CGI-enhanced stunts to the fact that it's shot in sequence with no allowance for sound or editing (and then shown in an actual theater!). Be Kind Rewind is a much better example of the power of fan-fiction filmmaking.

DVD Details: For some reason, Paramount's DVD is only available at Best Buy, though it will also be available for rent. This strikes me as a bad idea, given the "sleeper" status of the film. It will prevent people who don't shop at Best Buy from discovering the film. The DVD comes with a shot-on-VHS short film by the director Garth Jennings, as well as the slightly more professional "contest winner" video. There's a 26-minute making-of video and a commentary track with Jennings, the producer and the two boys.

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