that packs a real kick.
Jennings takes us to the early ’80s Home Counties suburbia of his youth for the story of two mismatched pre-teens. Will (Bill Milner) is the sheltered son of a strict religious family, whose father has died in the Falklands and has never even watched TV; Lee (Will Poulter) is the tougher wide-boy, a latchkey kid who bullies and then befriends Will as they embark on a homemade VHS opus, after seeing a pirate copy of ‘First Blood’.
Meanwhile, a group of French exchange students descend on the school, including one particular guy who constitutes a New Wave all of his own. Will is a keen doodler, and his sketches burst out across the countryside in playful CGI, but there’s also great entertainment in the boys’ lo-tech Heath-Robinson production plans.
Backyard remakes are very much of the moment – think Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind’ – but ‘Son of Rambow’ integrates its slapstick genre pastiche into a thoughtful story about peer pressure, neglect and yearning. Both Milner and Poulter are terrific; their performances, along with a keen eye for the indignities of the playground, help keep things the right side of sentimentality.