Australian Council on Children and the Media

Son of Rambow

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Short takes

Not recommended under 12, PG to 15 (Violence, Themes, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Son of Rambow
  • a review of Son of Rambow completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 September 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended for children due to violence, distressing themes and course language.
Children aged 12-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and coarse language

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Son of Rambow
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence, themes and coarse language
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Son of Rambow is set in England in the 1980s and tells the story of an unlikely friendship.  Will (Bill Milner), whose father died of an aneurysm, belongs to a strict Christian sect that forbids contact with outside influences such as television, music and friends outside the sect.  In contrast Lee Carter (Will Poulter), who has been abandoned by his mother and father and left with his uncaring older brother, has an existence of excessive freedom. 
The two boys find that they have more in common than expected as they join forces to create a home movie worthy of winning the BBC junior-filmmaker contest.  Lee is armed with plenty of ambition and a video camera when he accidentally stumbles upon the prolific creative talents of Will and convinces him to screen test for his movie adventure.  Will is easily enticed into Lee’s world of rebellion and freedom. When he accidentally views Lee’s pirated copy of Rambo: First Blood his imagination goes wild with the creative possibilities. 
What follows is a comedic adventure as the boys’ imaginings, drawings and daydreams come to life through the story of Son of Rambow. They start to make a name for themselves at school as movie makers but, as popularity descends on them, they find their friendship and movie are put to the test.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Child neglect, bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence and accidental harm in this movie, including stunts which parents may be concerned that children may imitate. Violence includes:

  • Lee’s older brother and his friends hit, kick and punch Lee whilst he is curled up in a ball on the floor
  • Will’s daydreams involve a scarecrow that becomes aggressive and attempts to choke him
  • Scenes of Rambo: First Blood are shown including a scene where Rambo holds a knife to the neck of another man, a house being blown up, a machine gun being fired at people, sounds of shooting and people dying
  • Will and Lee cut their hands and mingle blood to become “blood brothers”
  • Will is involved in a number of dangerous stunts such as being catapulted, ninja battles, falling from a tree, being thrown by a pressure sprinkler and sliding down a steep hill, all  with minimal consequence
  • A bird is shot and killed by one of the students
  • Will and Lee undertake a prank that sees one of the teachers get a pair of scissors stuck up his nose.  There is quite a lot of blood and screaming
  • One of the students threatens Will with a gun which is held to his head.  The other boy shoots before Will realises it is a toy gun.  He then holds it to his own head and pretends to kill himself.
  • Will is involved in a car crash, is thrown from the car and falls into a vat of oil.  He struggles for breath and his friends all desert him.  He is saved by Lee at the last minute.
  • Will is under scaffolding and building materials when the structure collapses.  He is seriously injured.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

It is unlikely that children in this age group will understand that many of the humorous stunt scenes and violent attacks by scary characters exist only in Will’s imagination and as a part of the film they are making.  Therefore they may find some of the images of fighting and killing scary

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

It is unlikely that children in this age group will understand that many of the humorous stunt scenes and violent attacks by scary characters exist only in Will’s imagination and as a part of the film they are making.  Therefore they may find some of the images of fighting and killing scary

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Lee being abandoned by his parents, treated cruelly by his brother
  • the idea of a child being seriously hurt and left alone in the hospital may be quite distressing for children of this age group
  • a number of scenes of heightened emotion throughout the film include yelling, aggression and crying

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The Rambo movies

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • a school kissing contest where one of the students is seen to kiss a number of the female students
  • two teenagers kiss
  • a nude sculpture

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A number of scenes of underage drinking and smoking by children and teenagers

Coarse language

There are some rude gestures and coarse language in this movie, including:

  • up yours
  • slapper
  • idiot
  • bollocks
  • oh god
  • shit
  • smash your face in
  • bloody
  • Jesus Christ
  • freak
  • pissed off
  • ass
  • bastard
  • cock

In a nutshell

Son of Rambow is a comedy about friendship and growing up. The main messages from this movie are the meaning of true friendship: loyalty, trust and forgiveness
This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • religion and faith
  • being dishonest with your parents
  • being involved in illegal activities such as stealing, pirating movies, smoking
  • peer pressure and bullying
  • involving yourself in dangerous stunts and situations
  • creativity and imagination
  • child neglect

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