Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Quickie: Be Kind Rewind

Release: 02.22.2008
DVD Release: 06.17.2008
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 41 minutes
Matinee ($$$) <
> Second-Run Seats ($$)

On a rundown corner in the town of Passaic, New Jersey sits a quaint little video store. That's right, a video, not DVD, rental shop called Be Kind Rewind. Owner Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover, Shooter) is being coerced by the city planners to relocate because his shop/home isn't up to code. Mr. Fletcher leaves Mike (Mos Def, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) in charge while he goes on "vacation" with his only stipulation being to keep Mike's moronic friend Jerry (Jack Black, Orange County) out of the store. Meanwhile, Jerry's power plant sabotage backfires, magnetizing him, and badda bing, the entire inventory is erased. To appease the irate customers and keep making money, Mike and Jerry begin recreating the films. Their "sweded" versions soon become the hit of the neighborhood.

This wacky idea sprang from the mind of writer-director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Unfortunately, its execution was stunted. Jack Black is appropriately annoying as the idiot man-child constantly creating more problems than he's solving. Mos Def's Mike is all heart but a pushover, hence why Jerry is always adding to the trouble. The interaction between them is often clumsy as if Gondry is unsure how people should act. When their "sweded" films need a female lead, the addition of self-conscious dry cleaner Alma
(Melonie Diaz, Lords of Dogtown) makes the story progression even more awkward.

Be Kind Rewind excels in its spectacular visuals. The trio's "sweded" films are ingenious and hilarious. Cheese pizzas, strings of tinsel, and whatever garbage they can scrounge up from Jerry's junkyard home are employed with MacGyver-esque deftness to craft playful recreations of awesome moments from Robocop, Ghostbusters, Boyz n the Hood and many, many more. There's even a montage of improvised scenes that you could probably watch a dozen times and still not name every film. Gondry's passion for the visual aspect of film shines through these moments. However, the reality of the store's impending closure shakes us from this whimsical daydream.

One reviewer
my wife read calls Gondry's Be Kind Rewind a love letter to film. Undoubtedly the love and sweat are almost palpable behind this film's goofy guise. I still hold to my initial reaction; Be Kind Rewind is the most depressing feel-good comedy you'll see this year.

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  1. I'm with the reviewer your wife read (Mrs. Whore? I keed, I keed).

    It's corny, it's sappy, it's kinda retarded in spots, but it's also inspiring, sweet, and ingenious, with brilliance sparkled throughout. I was more than willing to forgive the bad in favor of so much good. Yep - I heart Gondry, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

  2. You side more with Mrs. Whore. (She really needs a better name to call her own!)

    BKR is so sappy that at least it doesn't offend. Black retarded stuff just really turned me off early on. I'm sure it will play in our home again though and I won't mind sitting through it.

    Gondry is awesome, I heart Spotless Mind.