I went to see the movie "Be Kind, Rewind" the other day and all I can say is, it will no doubt be making its way to...um...DVD.
Be kind? I'll try, let's just say it has an independent feel to it, one that requires a lot patience and tolerance of the writer/director's style. The writer/director is Michel Gondry, the French director of the often times bizarre "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."And "Be Kind, Rewind" is very similair.
I almost always judge a movie by its cover... or rather its trailer. After seeing the trailer for this film I thought to myself "wow this could be kinda interesting. In this technologically advanced day and age a director would have to be pretty ballsy make a movie about a run-down store in Passaic, N.J.(of all places), that still rents movies in old, moldy, VHS format? At a time when practically every movie ever made has been converted to DVD format, why go to the videotape!
The often bizarre storyline goes something like this, try to follow me here, a man named Fletcher (Danny Glover) runs the Be Kind Rewind Video Store in Passaic, N.J.,that could kindly be called struggling, in a dilapidated old building he claims was the birthplace of jazz great Fats Waller. So anyway, the store only carries VHS's and rents them out for a dollar. They only carry one copy of each, which is a very important point later on trust me!
One day he goes on a trip to spy on " West Coast Video Store" (clearly meant to look like Blockbuster Video-right down to the blue and yellow color scheme) and learn how the chain operates.He leaves the store with sweet and gentle Mike (Mos Def), an unofficially adopted son, telling him not to let in their weird, but lovable neighbor Jerry (Jack Black).Sound advice, which of course Mike doesn't follow.
One night, Jerry gets struck by lightening, don't ask! The voltage is not enough to kill him, but it is powerful enough to demagnetize the entire stock of videotapes in the shop. He walks through the store, accidentally erasing the tapes clean.
Long story short, Mike panics and Jerry comes up with a solution: They and some friends will recreate (which he calls "sweded") movies. Their 20-minute, no-budget "Ghostbusters" and "Rush Hour II" (no worse than the Jackie Chan version actually!) becomes a hit with the neighborhood. The very idea that these two incompetent dudes as sweet and good intentioned as they are, trying to remake these big budget movies with all of the stunts and effects, is pretty ludicrous, but whatever!
Gondry also throws in a "tug at your heart strings" subplot about preserving the building from "urban renewal".Some city planners want to turn it into condos and give Fletcher only a few months to bring the building up to code.Much like, Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing", "Be Kind Rewind" is a simple,sweet, awkward at times neighborhood movie. It's real sloppy and cheap and mostly seems unscripted. But like of their crappy homemade remakes, this movie "has heart."
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That being said, however there's still an oddness about the whole film. I got the sense that Gondry was being weird for the sake of being weird.
Here's another big problem with the film is everyone is really weird... or slow, I couldn't tell which.
Mia Farrow pops in as the store's best costumer, but she is either over-acting, or under-acting...again I couldn't tell which. I've seen her in other films like "Rosemary's Baby" and "Hannah and Her Sisters." She's good in those. She's not good in this. Not to mention, there is a weird romance between her and Danny Glover's character that is never concluded beyond the fact that he calls her every night to see how she is and they obviously like each other.
And Jack Black?Well he plays Jack Black. He plays the same loser with bad hair that he was in "School of Rock" and "High Fidelity" and "Orange County." I'm sure he can play other roles, but he always seems to play the same character. And while it doesn't really hurt the movie, it's starting to get repetitive.
Mos Def is ok in it and he is working his way up my “actors I enjoy, but don’t go out of my way to see” list. But he didn't shine in this, he was too laid back for me. Probably because he was forced play the straight man to Jack Black, who basically hams it up throughout the whole movie
This is a movie where the audience must accept an over the top premise-a suspension of disbelief, if you will.Yes, it's pretty ridiculous that all the video tapes in the store could be erased because a magnetized man walks past them but never mind all that; the devil is in the details as they say..
And it's equally unbelievable that two guys could make their own version of Ghostbusters in a just few hours, but this movie demands that audience accept these things. Still, even for those willing to go with the flow, there are problems. The magnetization of Jerry, which at first seems to be a major plot point, is simply wrapped up when it no longer suits the story.
Hey, remember that Fats guy I mentioned before? Notice I've mentioned nothing about Fats until this moment, well, because they don't really talk about him. Well, now the movie tries to explain the beginning.********Warning Spoiler Ahead!!!********
They decide that they should make a movie about Fats, and for some reason the entire community is going to help, BUT OH MY GOD, Danny Glover's been lying. He's been telling Mos Def his entire life that Fats grew up in the building that became the video store, but What??? It's all been a LIE! But, instead of being pissed about it they go on to make one last movie, about the life of Fats Wallar.
The ending?Well it's equally as puzzling as the rest of the movie.Never mind the fact that the building is still going to get torn down and that they owe a ton of money-none of this is adressed.
And oh before I forget, you wanna know how Jack Black becomes demagnetized ? He eats a bottle of aspirin, drinks a bucket full of salt water, gets sick, pukes, and then runs out to pee on the street, thereby peeing out the magnetism...seriously. The liquid pours down the street while metal objects stick to it. That's the last we hear of the magnetized storyline.**********End of Spoiler!!!********
Don't get me wrong it wasn't all bad; it was fun to watch Jerry and Mike film their no-budget amatuer versions of “Robocop” and “The Lion King”and in the end, you may well give in to the whole silly thing.But after nearly two hours I found myself wishing for a 'sweded" 20-minute version of the real thing!