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Son of Rambow & r & & r & by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ure, the movie is scattered, full of non sequiturs -- and it applies schmaltz with a trowel at its chin-quivering end -- but Son of Rambow is a howlingly great story.





It's a film that beautifully captures the demented, fragile, head-shakingly weird world inhabited by preteen boys and their imaginations.





There is Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a manipulator, bully and sometime smoker who wants to win a BBC young filmmaker's contest. There is Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), an isolated, awkward member of a religious cult who becomes a frenzied madman as he transforms into the title character out to rescue his dad from the clutches of an evil scarecrow. OK, I said it was demented, but quite charmingly so.





Writer-director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith, the same people who brought us The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 2005, entwine loneliness, friendship and Rambo: First Blood in an engaging mix. Lee and Will each cradle gaping emotional wounds -- Will's father keeled over while mowing the lawn, while Lee and his supercilious older brother have been abandoned by their mom at an old folks' home.





The twists and turns of being 10-year-old guerilla filmmakers and learning about friendship on a stodgy prep school campus are great. Random great line from teacher to class: "You'll do well to keep your wits about you when I talk about scree."





The DVD extras are on the wan side. The coolest is a kid-produced short that was the winner of a Son of Rambow Web contest. There is also the short "Aron," made by Jennings when he was a kid, which seems like awful vanity to be included on the disc. I wrote stories when I was 10. I wouldn't want anyone to see them now.





The "Making of" featurette also has a weird tone. Mainly it's a rambling conversation between Jennings and Goldsmith about how many crappy auditions they endured before finding the two lead actors. And they are having this conversation with the two lead actors.





But they are talking on a houseboat on a canal where they did all the post-production editing. How boy world is that? (Rated PG-13)

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