Son of Rambow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film featured a watchable but mediocre transfer.
Sharpness seemed erratic. Most shots were reasonably crisp, but more than a few looked a little loose and soft. Some moderate edge haloes exacerbated that problem and made definition inconsistent. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and only a few examples of source flaws occurred. I saw a couple of small specks and that was about it.
Colors tended to be a little flat. Some exterior shots offered pretty good vivacity, but much of the film appeared just a bit dull in terms of color reproduction. Blacks appeared reasonably dark and tight, while shadows showed acceptable clarity. All of this added up to a “C+” for visuals.
I didn’t get much more from the fairly low-key Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Rambow. Music offered good stereo imaging, and the mix provided a decent sense of environment. A few scenes such as Will’s fantasies managed to open up the sides and rears in a more engaging manner, but these didn’t pop up with much frequency. This remained a subdued track most of the time, which was what I expected from a film of this sort.
Audio quality satisfied. Speech always remained concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded lively and full, while effects appeared clear and accurate. Bass response was perfectly acceptable. Nothing here stood out as particularly impressive, but I thought the audio merited a “B-“.
A few extras fill out the set. First comes an audio commentary from director Garth Jennings, producer Nick Goldsmith and actors Bill Milner and Will Poulter. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific piece that looks at story issues and some alterations to the original script, sets and locations, cast and performances, the film’s reception, and general production experiences/anecdotes.
This becomes a rather freewheeling chat. In an odd homage to the commentary for Vanilla Sky, Jennings occasionally plays incongruous music as alternate score, and the kids’ mothers join the track for a brief while to add their two cents. It could – and probably should – have become a mess, but instead it turns into a fun and cheeky but still informative discussion. Though I wouldn’t call it a great commentary, it’s entertaining and useful enough to merit a listen.
Next comes a featurette called Boys Will Be Boys: The Making of Son of Rambow. This 26-minute and three-second piece mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and remarks from Milner, Poulter, Jennings, and Goldsmith. We visit the boats used as production offices, cast and performances, the atmosphere on the set, the film’s development and path to the screen, and a few other production elements.
Since “Boys” only features remarks from the four commentary participants, I feared it would do little more than repeat their thoughts from that track. Happily, they manage to cover a number of different issues here. Of prime interest are Jennings’ notes about how his childhood influenced the story, and the behind the scenes material also adds life. This turns into a good little program.
Garth’s Short Film Aron fills 10 minutes, 47 seconds. It presents an action flick Jennings shot on video as a teen. At no point does it threaten to become good, but it’s not bad for something done by a kid. It also clearly demonstrates the Rambo influence that would show up in Rambow; Jennings mentions this in “Boys” and we see it here.
We also find the Son of Rambow Website Winner. This five-minute and three-second piece offers a short videotaped film made by “A. and P. Dunn”, apparently shot back in 1996 if we believe the video time stamps. It presents another Rambo-style effort. The DVD doesn’t make it clear what the website contest involved or anything else about the short; it just shows up here without commentary. Like Aron, it’s not bad for something done by kids at home.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for American Teen, The Duchess and The Love Guru. These also appear in the Previews area along with promos for The Rolling Stones: Shine a Light and Drillbit Taylor. No trailer for Rambow appears here.
A fairly unsentimental take on the “coming of age” genre, Son of Rambow provides an entertaining fable. It succeeds largely due to some fine performances from its leads, and it also narrowly avoids the sentimental trends that mar so many films of this sort. The DVD provides acceptable but ordinary picture and audio along with a few good extras. I’d at least recommend a rental for this good little flick.