Son of Rambow

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Son of Rambow
UK quad poster
Directed byGarth Jennings
Written byGarth Jennings
Produced byNick Goldsmith
CinematographyJess Hall
Edited byDominic Leung
Music byJoby Talbot
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 22 January 2007 (2007-01-22) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • 4 April 2008 (2008-04-04) (United Kingdom)
  • 21 June 2008 (2008-06-21) (Germany[1])
Running time
95 minutes[3]
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany[1]
  • English
  • French
  • German
Budget£4.5 million[4]
Box office$10.1 million

Son of Rambow is a 2007 comedy film written and directed by Garth Jennings and inspired by First Blood. The film premiered on 22 January 2007 at the Sundance Film Festival.[5] It was later shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Glasgow Film Festival.[6] The film was also shown at the 51st BFI London Film Festival. Son of Rambow was released in the United Kingdom on 4 April 2008 and opened in limited release in the United States on 2 May 2008.[7] Set over a summer during Thatcher's Britain, the film is a coming of age story about two schoolboys and their attempts to make an amateur film inspired by First Blood.


Will Proudfoot is a quiet and shy 11-year-old boy from a family that belongs to the strict Plymouth Brethren church. Will is forbidden from watching films or television and is made to leave his classroom when a documentary is shown in class. In the corridor, he meets Lee Carter, the 12-year-old worst-behaved boy in school, thrown out of another class for bad behaviour. After they accidentally break a fish bowl, Lee volunteers to take the blame in exchange for Will's watch, which belonged to his dead father. Moreover, Lee demands that Will performs the stunts in a film Lee is making to enter the Screen Test Young Film-Makers' Competition.

At Lee's house, Will finds out Lee intends to use home video equipment owned by his 16-year-old bullying older brother Lawrence to make a homage to First Blood. While hiding from Lawrence, Will accidentally sees the film; becomes inspired, he joins Lee in the production. Will enthusiastically does several dangerous action scenes, culminating in the two boys becoming 'blood brothers' after Lee saves him from drowning. Lee finds Will's sketchbook and incorporates some of the ideas into his film script. The two become best friends, but Will has to keep it secret from his family and the increasingly interfering Brother Joshua of the Brethren, who has designs on his mother.

Didier Revol, a popular French exchange student, finds Will's sketchbook and asks to join the film, and Will agrees. This snowballs into the whole school being part of the production, and Will being included with the cool sixth-formers. Lee does not like this, as he is no longer in control. While filming the last sequence at a disused power station, their tension culminates in a fight, and Lee storms off. Due to Didier's carelessness, part of the unstable structure collapses, trapping Will. The rest of the kids, including Didier, flee the scene. Lee returns to rescue his friend. Lee gets hurt and is hospitalised. Lawrence visits Lee, but is angry about the broken camera.

Will's mother, from whom he has struggled to hide his activities, finally realises that her son must be allowed to be himself. Her family leaves the Brethren. The film is never submitted to the competition as they miss the deadline. Lawrence looks at Lee's footage and he is impressed. He also sees Lee defending him when Will condemns his behavior, which was accidentally filmed. With Will's help, Lawren adds a part in which he acts himself – including a message for his brother.

When Lee leaves the hospital, he is brought to a cinema. His film is shown before the main feature (much to the enjoyment of the audience) and the two boys reconcile.



Son of Rambow is a project that Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith – collectively known as Hammer & Tongs – worked on for some years. Its development was interrupted when they were asked to make The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it is their second major feature film. It was inspired by Jennings' own experiences as a child in the 1980s, when video equipment first became available to the public, and the film recreates the atmosphere of an English comprehensive school of the time, using a soundtrack of both familiar and lesser known pop tracks from the era.[8] The film was shot primarily in the English town of Berkhamsted, and the nearby Ashridge Estate owned and managed by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty Hertfordshire: featuring Ashlyns School and The Rex, a recently refurbished listed Art Deco cinema which had been left derelict between 1989 and 2004.

The two roads where both boys live are approximately 1,200 metres apart, being located next to Berkhamsted Castle. They are the two most exclusive residential roads in the town. The film also shot at the Richborough Power Station in Sandwich, which was then disused.[9] The film includes a vintage clip of Jan Pinkava winning the BBC Screen Test competition. The minor role of Danny, an acolyte of Didier, a glamorous French exchange student, is played by Stanley Kubrick's grandson, Sam Kubrick-Finney.[10] The film includes excerpts from First Blood and is endorsed by Sylvester Stallone, the star of the Rambo franchise.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Son of Rambow received generally favourable reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 73% based on reviews from 118 critics. The site's consensus is: "Undeniable heart and charming young leads save the film's nostalgic storyline from suffering at the hands predictability [sic]."[7] On Metacritic the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 29 reviews.[12]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a positive review and wrote: "After the movie, I imagined its writer-director, Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) being more than a little like Will, and the movie uncannily similar to one of Will's comic epics."[13] Desson Thomson of The Washington Post wrote: "We cringe and laugh at -- and are ultimately moved by -- their clumsiness and innocence. And it endears us to the Rambo films in ways we never could have anticipated."[citation needed] Kimberley Jones of The Austin Chronicle called it "Funny and sweet and guaranteed to flood you with good feeling",[14] and Ty Burr of the Boston Globe called it "an absolute delight".[15]

David Morrell, the author who created the character of John Rambo, called it "a tender, charming story".[16] Stallone saw the film and sent a note to the filmmakers saying he loved it.[17]


The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Both Kimberly Jones of The Austin Chronicle and Ty Burr of The Boston Globe named it their eighth best, and Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle named it his ninth.[18]

The film won the Empire Award for Best Comedy.[19] Garth Jennings was nominated for a BAFTA in the Most Promising Newcomer category.[20] The film was named one of the Top Ten Independent Films by the National Board of Review in 2008.[21]

Home media[edit]

Son of Rambow was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 11 August 2008,[22] and on DVD in the United States on 26 August 2008.[23]


A stage musical adaptation has been workshopped by Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) in association with The Other Palace in London where it was presented from 24 May to 2 June 2018. It was directed by Nuffield Southampton Theatres' Artistic Director Samuel Hodges, with music by Miranda Cooper and Nick Coler, lyrics by Cooper and Richard Marsh and book by Marsh.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Der Sohn von Rambow". Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  2. ^ Kay, Jeremy (24 January 2007). "Rambow sells for $7.5m to Paramount Vantage at busy Sundance". Screen International. Archived from the original on 28 November 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  3. ^ "Son of Rambow (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 20 August 2023. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  4. ^ USC School of Cinematic Arts (25 April 2008). "Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith". (Podcast). Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  5. ^ "Son of Rambow". Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Son of Rambow". Cineuropa. Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Son of Rambow (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  8. ^ Garth Jennings, speaking after the London premiere
  9. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Son of Rambow Film Focus". Archived from the original on 22 June 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  10. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (8 February 2008). "The Guardian: Let's hold the premiere in the front room". London. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  11. ^ Son of Rambow DVD commentary
  12. ^ "Son of Rambow". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (2008). "Son of Rambow movie review & film summary (2008)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 15 August 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Movie Review: Son of Rambow". Austin Chronicle. 2008. Archived from the original on 10 April 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  15. ^ Burr, Ty (9 May 2008). "In comedic 'Rambow,' boys grow up fast". Archived from the original on 25 September 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  16. ^ David Morrell. "David Morrell on Rambo". Archived from the original ( on 8 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Son of Rambow". UNCUT. 28 March 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2020. Has Sylvester Stallone seen it? Yes, and I got this message saying he loved it.
  18. ^ "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  19. ^ "Best Comedy". 2009. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Film in 2009". Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  21. ^ "2008 Archives". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  22. ^ "Son of Rambow Blu-ray". Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  23. ^ "Son of Rambow DVD". Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.

External links[edit]