Be Kind Rewind (12A)



Comedy (2007)
100mins US

Starring: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Melonie Diaz
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer(s): Michel Gondry
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Mike works in a small, New Jersey video rental store under the management of Mr Fletcher. When the boss is away, Mike will play with his auto mechanic chum Jerry, who inadvertently manages to wipe all of the tapes when his entire body is magnetized by the local power plant. With nothing but blank tapes to flog to the customers, Mike and Jerry hurriedly grab a camcorder and create budget versions of top films including Ghostbusters, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Driving Miss Daisy, The Lion King and Robocop.

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LondonNet Film Review by Kiernan Maletsky
Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind is largely impossible...

Be Kind Rewind.  2006 Junkyard Productions LLC.I'm willing to accept that Jack Black's Jerry has become magnetized after a night of electrocution. Grudgingly, I'll even allow that he could reverse his polarization by overdosing on Advil, drinking salt water and then pissing glowing urine that has sufficient magnetic force to yank a muffler off a car.

And so it's no further stretch to imagine that he then erases all of the VHS tapes in the dated local video store, increasingly a David to the large DVD chains' Goliath. In order to keep the customers happy and the store in business, Jerry and Mike (a very earnest Mos Def) must recreate Hollywood favourites such as Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy.

Unfortunately, such fantasy is more of a struggle here than in previous Michel Gondry movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, because the premise does not immediately set up an alternate reality. We are in the very real town of Passaic, New Jersey, in the present day, amidst a community of normal people.

Be Kind Rewind.  2006 Junkyard Productions LLC.Still, it's no crime to bend the laws of nature a little. Harder to recover from is Gondry's betrayal of the laws of cause and effect. Sure, there's a loose progression leading to a culminating event, but by haphazardly slapping one scene onto the next, or stuffing one character into his relationship with another using a couple lines of dialogue, he's bashed the knees of his story. It must hobble to its peak and collapse once it's there.

But it's a little Uncle Scrooge-y to cast a disdainful eye on Be Kind Rewind, because this is a story about the joy of creation and, more importantly, the unique bliss of being an inspired amateur. Forget that the movie store's owner (Danny Glover) readily abandons most of his major decisions. Forget that the spark of romance is struck in one scene, only to be ignored completely for the rest of the film. Forget that every problem is solved with the contrived ease of a sitcom. In a vacuum, Jerry and Mike alone at first and eventually with the help of the rest of the town, are making giddy home videos. The kind you and your friends used to do, laughing about them but secretly feel a fierce sense of paternal or maternal pride.

Be Kind Rewind.  2006 Junkyard Productions LLC.Gondry understands this feeling. He always seems to dive into projects with a smile on his face, doing it because he can no longer contain the creative energy filling him. This latest project is no exception, despite the fact that his drive and technical ability grossly outpace the story itself. His eye for visual design alone is so good that Be Kind Rewind is watchable and maybe even endearing, which it absolutely shouldn't be.

- Kiernan Maletsky

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Read Kiernan Maletsky's Review>>
Read Sam Cannon's Review >>

LondonNet Film Review by Sam Cannon
Be Kind Rewind

Always look on the bright side of life with writer-director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep), whose new film pays homage to dearly departed VHS...

Be Kind Rewind.  2006 Junkyard Productions LLC.Be Kind Rewind is a quirky comedy about two best friends who, through outrageous misfortune, have to remake Hollywood blockbusters with only a camcorder and their ingenuity. Some of these 20-minute revamps are hilarious (recreating Ghostbusters with kitchen foil and tinsel) and Jack Black's impersonation of a scrap metal Robocop, complete with hairdryer gun, is unforgettable. However, once you put these brilliantly conceived skits to one side, you'll struggle to find any substance to Gondry's surreal romp. The underlying narrative is plodding and flimsy at best, concerning the creation of a film to honour jazz legend Fats Waller. Most of the big laughs rely on audiences being familiar with the films that are being spoofed. Thankfully, apart from Rush Hour 2 which was laughably bad in its original incarnation, most are classics (2001: A Space Odyssey, Driving Miss Daisy, The Lion King) ripe for reinvention.

Mike (Mos Def) works in a small, New Jersey video rental store under the management of Mr Fletcher (Danny Glover). When the boss is away, Mike will play... with his auto mechanic chum Jerry (Jack Black), who inadvertently manages to wipe all of the tapes when his body is magnetized by the local power plant. With nothing but blank tapes to flog to the customers, Mike and Jerry hurriedly create a no-budget version of Ghostbusters for loyal customer, Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow). Local residents fall in love with the pals' remakes and begin to request new versions of other films.

Be Kind Rewind.  2006 Junkyard Productions LLC.As the business venture takes off, Mike and Jerry enlist the help of pretty cleaner Alma (Melonie Diaz) to play some of the female roles. Mr Fletcher returns and is soon persuaded to throw his support behind the flourishing enterprise, which now involves half the town. However, Hollywood film studios despatch a rep (Sigourney Weaver) to threaten legal proceedings for infringement of copyright. Can Mike and Jerry continue to rewrite cinematic history?

Be Kind Rewind is a testament to Gondry's creativity and his distinctive, off-kilter perspective on modern life. The remakes are inspired - marvel at the cheap and cheerful interpretation of the spinning space station from 2001 - and it's always a disappointment to have to return to the real life trials and tribulations of the townsfolk. With the obvious exception of livewire Black, performances are muted. Def has an annoying tendency to mumble all of his lines, so if there are any finer points to Gondry's script, they are lost in his monotone Brooklyn drawl. The climactic screening of the community's Fats Waller tribute brings Gondry's film to a close with a whimper rather than a bang.

- Sam Cannon

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