But this is no action-flick, it’s an affectionate coming-of-age comedy about two unlikely British lads finding friendship in their gung-ho attempt to film a school-yard version of Rambo: First Blood.
And even that quirky premise is soon overtaken by the film’s real goal – to recreate the sights and sounds of early 80s school days. Basically it’s a nostalgia trip with nods to the fashions, foods and follies of the 1980s – only in passing is it ever about Stallone’s movie.
Nevertheless, Stallone was so amused by Son of Rambow that he agreed to allow the trailer for it to be shown nationwide - and Stateside - at screenings of his own 2008 Rambo film. And you can see why.
Son of Rambow is a likeably anarchic recreation of childhood that riffs on Stallone’s movie only to highlight how movies can be the stuff of dreams. And ten year old Will (Bill Milner) and Lee (Will Poulter) need their dreams. Will is suffocating in a strict – but broken - Plymouth Brethren household. Lee Carter is a mischief-making bully-boy from a tough but damaged family.
When the wayward Lee decides to film his own version of Rambo: First Blood he coerces the peaceful Will into being his leading man. And as Will literally throws himself into the part, he and Carter forge a friendship and become the envy of the school.
Son of Rambow succeeds most in its wonderful joie de vivre – and in its fantastic sight gags, as little Will is catapulted through a series of home-made stunts. And with such extraordinarily brilliant performances from the two young leads, it’s a big shame when writer-director Garth Jennings seriously loses the plot.
Carried away by a greedy desire to pack in as many 80s riffs as possible – space dust, silly clothes, New Romantic music – Jennings finds gold only to bury it again: a redundant sub-plot involving a French exchange student is a serious miscalculation, and a huge distraction.
Still, Son of Rambow is mostly delightful and often very touching. Like the 80s itself, it suffers from excess. And without Poulter and Milner it wouldn’t be half as good. But for sheer visual imagination and offbeat humour, it’s a little treat.
It comes out with all guns blazing – but not in the Stallone sense.