, 102 min, 2008
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Michel Gondry
Stars: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover
Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, an odd, silly and ultimately sweet ode to movie lovers everywhere, is as whimsical as it is inconsequential.
Jack Black stars as Jerry Gerber, a Passaic, New Jersey garage worker who becomes magnetized after attempting to sabatoge a power plant, only to then accidentally erase every VHS tape in the local video store – a small, neighborhood operation that rents ONLY VHS for $1 and 1 day. With the financially troubled and Fats Waller-obsessed proprietor Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) out of town on a “memorial” trip, this inevitably leads Jerry and his best friend Mike (Mos Def) to the most logical conclusion – refilm every tape in the store on VHS with themselves as the actors! Why not just replace them with DVDs, you say? Well…don’t ask (the characters don’t!).
Before long, they recruit a shockingly business-savvy and beautiful budding young actress called Alma (Melonie Diaz), who is a huge help. With her aid, they manage to recreate such films as RoboCop, The Lion King, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rush Hour, When We Were Kings, King Kong, Ghostbusters, etc. (you kind of have to see it to believe it!). This (much to their surprise) becomes a sort of local legend and brings in all sorts of new customers, in addition to appeasing the less-than-aware die-hard fans of the store, such as Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow), who apparently hasn’t seen a lot of films, but rents them to show to her at-risk youth constituency.
A sort of a plot twist kicks in when it appears that the video store is in danger of being torn down, no thanks to a heartless bureaucrat (Sigourney Weaver, who pops up for one scene) “just doing her job.” How the neighborhood bands together in an effort to at least lessen the sting of this bleak reality, if not outright stop it in its tracks, is really very heartwarming.
The film has been written and directed by Michel Gondry, known for being something of a visually imaginative sort – he started with music videos (Bjork, etc.) and then moved forward to such features as Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (as well as the fun concert film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party). His previous effort was the uneven and bizarre The Science of Sleep, and he is obviously in love with movies, as well as the low (or no) budget effects that are sometimes necessary to make them happen – cardboard as set design, fans in front of the camera to simulate the effect of “an old timey movie,” etc.
It’s this love of movies that permeates most of the characters in this film, and it’s Gondry’s love of movies that is infectious enough to make you laugh, and tug at your heartstrings.
I know, it doesn’t make much sense in a logical sort of way, but if you just roll with it, it’s funny enough, and sweet enough and has a very nice concluding message. What more could you want?