Be Kind, RewindBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual reference
Release Date: February 22, 2008
Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes
Plot Synopsis: Mike lives above the video and vintage store Be Kind Rewind in the sleepy town of Passaic, New Jersey. When store’s owner, Mr. Fletcher goes out of town, he leaves Mike one piece of essential advice: don’t let his best friend Jerry in. Sure enough, disaster-prone Jerry strikes again, erasing all of the store’s rental videotapes after being rendered magnetic from a freak electrocution. Terrified of Mr. Fletcher’s reaction, Mike decides the only way to save the store from ruin is to recreate the movies patrons want to borrow and with an old RCA camcorder, homemade props, borrowed costumes and a cast of neighbors starts to “Swede” classic flicks such as Ghostbusters, Robocop, 2001: A Space Odyssey and King Kong.
Sex/Nudity: Jerry, Mike and Mr. Fletcher discuss their meager dating histories; as the Sweded movies’ leading lady, Alma has some silly kissing scenes with Jerry and almost kisses shy Mike for real.
Violence/Gore: Some good-natured wrestling between friends Mike and Jerry; while trying to sabotage the power plant Jerry is electrocuted by a swarm of powerful charges.
Which Kids Will Like It?
Jerry and Mike’s silly, slapstick clowning could appeal to elementary school age viewers though if they’ve not seen at least a few of the films remade, they may feel a little left out of the joke. For that reason, movie-literate pre-teens and teens, particular ones with Hollywood aspirations would best enjoy this movie.
Will Parents Like It?
Adult fans of Gondry’s movies about relationships like Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won’t find any tender romance in Be Kind Rewind but if they love movies like Gondry obviously does, they’ll be charmed by his recreations.
Kaboose Review: French filmmaker Michel Gondry is a true visual artist. He began his directing career making music videos for rock bands like Beck, Daft Punk and Björk, where he created witty aesthetic environments to accompany their innovative music and garnered critical acclaim. His second feature-length fiction film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, also won numerous awards, including a 2004 Oscar for Best Screenplay. Watching Gondry’s work you often get a sense that moviemaking to him is just a great way to play and figuring out how to film his clever special effects an elaborate puzzle.
In his newest movie, Gondry transfers that filmmaking-as-play impulse to his amateur auteur characters, Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Jack Black). Through a series of trifling coincidences involving a failed attempt to sabotage the local power plant and a magnetic Jerry erasing all the videotapes, Mike and Jerry must remake the store’s most popular titles. They enlist the help of their enthusiastic neighbors, including a cute dry cleaning clerk named Alma (Melonie Diaz) who provides costumes and plays the leading ladies and the garbage man Wilson (Irv Gooch) whose junkyard serves as a set, and then tell the video store regulars the movies have been “Sweded"-- in other words, made in a far away country. Gondry’s creativity really goes into hyper drive with this kind of wacky premise, as he concocts gorgeous DIY-looking tableaus from iconic films like the library sliming in Ghostbusters, the knock-out in When We Were Kings or Rush Hour 2’s climactic showdown with the bomb.
Both of the film’s leading men are musicians as well as actors, and their unstudied performance styles compliment each other well. Like the movie star buddies Def and Black mimic in their Sweded videos, their jokey patter can seem excessively goofy but they do appear to really enjoy each other’s company. Some of the other supporting characters’ relationships though are more two dimensional, like Mia Farrow’s kindhearted spinster Miss Falewicz and her friendship with the clueless Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). While the film ends on a heartwarming note of community togetherness over a shared love of movies, its hopeful resolution seems a bit tacked on. The pat happy ending is unfortunate considering Gondry’s unique and funny premise.
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Cast: Mos Def (Mike), Jack Black (Jerry), Danny Glover (Mr. Fletcher), Mia Farrow (Miss Falewicz), Melonie Diaz (Alma), Irv Gooch (Wilson), Sigourney Weaver (Ms. Lawson)
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.
2 1/2 Stars