Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
|Featuring||Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Quinton Aaron, Dennis Albanese, P.J. Byrne, Melonie Diaz, Paul Dinello, Marcus Carl Franklin, Frank Girardeau, Blake Hightower, Chandler Parker, Gio Perez, Amir Ali Said, Arjay Smith, John Tormey, Matt Walsh, Karolina Wydra|
|Producer||Raffi Adlan, Georges Bermann, Toby Emmerich, Julie Fong, Ann Ruark, Guy Stodel|
|Distributor||New Line Cinema|
“You name it, we shoot it.”
In 2004, director Michel Gondrey cast Jim Carrey to blur the lines of love and memory in his enigmatic film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Now Gondrey has cast Jack Black as loveable loser Jerry in his latest film “Be Kind Rewind.”
Jerry’s best friend Mike (Mos Def) is put in charge of a local New Jersey video store (by which the film finds its name), when the video store owner (Danny Glover) leaves town to settle a legal dispute. After a power plant accident, Jerry unknowingly becomes magnetized and erases all the VHS tapes in the store.
With Mr. Fletcher, the owner, out of town, Mike and Jerry have to find a way to replace all the video tapes that contain nothing but snow patterns. When a local patron (Mia Farrow) comes in and insists on renting “Ghost Busters,” the two decide to take advantage of the fact that she hasn’t seen it, by shooting their own home version of the film.
With Mike directing and Jerry taking the leading roles, the two go on to start their own franchise of remaking some of Hollywood’s most famous hits as well as reworking independent films. As they venture into more romantic fare, it becomes apparent they need a leading lady, so they elicit the help of a neighborhood girl, Alma (Melonie Diaz, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”) to fill in the feminine rolls.
While Mike and Jerry try to keep the store open, Mr. Fletcher is spying on the mega-conglomerate store that offers DVDs and is driving Be Kind Rewind out of business. The David vs. Goliath story is a common theme throughout the movie. Mr. Fletcher is also battling with the city to keep the store in its historic location, while the city would rather tear it down to make room for a block of luxury, high-rise condos.
A former award-winning music video and TV commercial director, Gondrey uses stop motion and highly stylized visual techniques to achieve a very unique style to his films.
This style may be hard for some to embrace, however, his low tech special effects work perfectly in illustrating Jerry and Mike’s attempts to recreate some of Tinseltown’s golden epics. Of Gondrey’s films, this one is probably the most user accessible, as it doesn’t have the space-time continuum plot of “…Eternal Sunshine…” nor the mature subject matter of “The Science of Sleep.”
I noticed very little objectionable material. The only violence is when Jerry accidentally electrocutes himself, and this is done in a cartoon-like manner, and the fight scenes from the films that Jerry and Mike try to replicate, such as “Ghost Busters” and “Rush Hour 2”. There are only two instances of profanity, as the characters purposely choose to use colorful euphemisms rather than the typical four letter epithets that are used in most Hollywood pictures. One instance is when Jerry utters the ‘b’ word while quoting lines from the Bill Murray phantom-vanquishing character in “Ghost Busters.”
There are parts of this film that are exceptionally funny, particularly when Mike and Jerry are using a minimal budget to recreate scenes from movies that most viewers will be familiar with. The performances are good, particularly the supporting roles of Diaz and Mos Def. Jack Black’s typical over the top performance works well in the recreations.
Though there is nothing overtly offensive for Christian audiences, Gondrey is a unique filmmaker that works in a visual style that may not appeal to a general audience. Fans of Gondrey will no doubt enjoy this vehicle, that allows his characters to recreate these classic films. If you are willing to give your cinematic palette a little taste of something different, then you might be pleasantly surprised by “Be Kind Rewind”.