Went to see this with Joseph and Mark, and we all loved it. It's hugely better than Jennings previous film, the feature length adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Jennings wrote the script here, loosely based on his own childhood recreation of First Blood. The film is simply a joy - a mad bucketful of reckless, playful abandon.
Set in the early 1980s, two boys, different but both outsiders, fall in to a friendship fixed on making their own Rambo movie. Will Proudfoot (Bill Miliner) lives with his mother, sister and grandma and belongs to a closed religious sect hostile to the outside/modern world. Lee Carter (Will Poulter) lives with an adored and ignoring older brother, in a house attached to an old peoples home that doubles as a store house for aspirational 80s consumer items.
Both the leads are outstanding and perfectly cast. Miliner plays the protected innocent whose lack of stimulus has forced him to rely on/develop an extraordinary imagination - which literally explodes when confronted with the amazing feats of Rambo:
"You don't seem to want to accept the fact you're dealing with an expert in guerrilla warfare, with a man who's the best, with guns, with knives, with his bare hands. A man who's been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a billy goat puke. In Vietnam his job was to dispose of enemy personnel. To kill! Period! Win by attrition. Well Rambo was the best. "
Poulter is just stupidly good as the unscrupulous wannabe wide boy Lee Carter - desperate to win Screen Test, despised by the schools' white sock mafia (how the hell those girls got their socks to stay up for the whole decade remains a complete mystery to me).
The only scene which jarred for me was Will's hallucinogenic re-imagining of the school 6th form common room (for my non-UK readers, 6th form is typically for 16-18 years olds, taking qualifications to get them into university). In Will's version, it's teeming with goths and new wave romantics - the exact groups which in reality were routinely considered as an unpopular, freakish minority and herded up accordingly. Even with Will's planet-sized imagination it's gotta seem dubious to anyone who was actually around in the 80s that the conformist, insecure and vicious teen majority would be entirely absent, however double dipper and space dust fulled.