Plot – Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
Director – Michel Gondry
Genre – Comedy
Released – 2008
Be Kind Rewind is a strange film, one that sounds creative on paper and boasts a talented cast and has some charming moments, its outrageous plot ends up getting too caught up in sub-plots to reach the high bar set by Gondry’s earlier works. with some of these elements not only distracting the viewer from the parts that worked but also slowed the film down and in places was boring, especially the frequent mentions of jazz musician Fats Waller, which loses its sentimental nature far too early on in the film, leaving me feeling bored far more than thought I would watch a film with Jack Black remaking classic movies.
The main one of these reasons stemmed from the lack of character development. Over the course of the film, we learn very little about Mike (Deff) or Jerry (Black), their pasts, why they are friends and their motivations never seem to come up apart from the basics. The same can be said for Mr Fletcher (Glover) or the frequent customers to the store such as Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) and worst of all Alma (Melonie Diaz), who’s introduced randomly halfway through the film and is never developed into anything more than being a female in a cast dominated by males. Gondry clearly has his reasons for introducing these characters, but given they are universally one-dimensional cut-outs, my guess is there was more to the film that ended up on the cutting room floor.
This isn’t to say the film is without merit when the film actually gets to its key drawing point, the re-filming of the VHS movies, it does it well and watching these famous scenes being cheaply recreated brings more than a moment of laughter, with Gondry’s eye for a great shot in full use as he takes advantage of multiple different angles and stylistic devices during the remaking of specific scenes out of these movies, which also brings with it a lot of humour. The highlight for me was watching Def and Black recreate Ghostbusters while Driving Miss Daisy, King Kong, We Were Kings and 2001: A Space Odyssey all make an appearance, which I’m sure will be a treat to anyone with even a passing interest in cinema.
Even in the more boring sections of the film, both Def and Black deliver great performances. It was especially good to see Black attempting to move away from what he was then known for and redefine himself as an actor, sure he still has his usual moments of screwball antics, but he also makes use of his dramatic side seen in the likes of King Kong.
For all it’s faults or shortcomings, Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind boasts enough unassuming heart and charm to make it almost impossible to dislike and while it’s nowhere near as funny as one might hope for, you will find yourself smiling more than once at either the absurd reenactments or the central performances from Black, Def and Glover. Plus any film where Sigourney Weaver pops up for a cameo is always worth a watch.