Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Be Kind, Rewind (2008)

I always loved making movies at home with a big camcorder. Using whatever worked to create the illusion we were trying to achieve; it wasn't easy, but it was fun. 

I felt that way about Be Kind, Rewind, the newest from the ultra-fine director Michel Gondry. In an increasingly digital world where editing movies is as quick and simple as tying your shoelaces, this film takes you back to a time when it was work for people to make home movies. 

I thought this film--about the classic run-down VHS-only neighborhood dollar rental store--was entirely too clever. When a mission to sabotage the local power supply goes horribly wrong, Jerry (Jack Black) becomes magnetized and accidentally erases every tape in the store. 

While the owner (Danny Glover) is out of town, Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry have no other option to appease their customers and let them borrow the movies they want. But since they don't have the original copy, they have to shoot their own. 

What works best here is the dynamic between Jack Black and Mos Def. Their pairing is unlikely but dammit, it works. Mike is whiny and spazy and anxious all the time. Jerry is paranoid and weird and silly. 

The two create organic 20-minute versions of classic films such as Ghostbusters, Driving Miss Daisy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc... 

Then there's the classic story of: The man wants to tear down the store because it's an architectural nightmare. It's been condemned and they need to move shop. Oh noes! Luckily, they have a plan. They're going to rent out their movies for $20 and use the money to buy off the contractors. 

It's a little tired, but the endless antics from Black, Def and the rest makes up for it. 

The ending is ambiguous. But I think that works. It's not always important to know how things will turn out, or what will happen to the characters. The movie is really about strengthening a community and an underdog video store. 

Ironically, this film will only be released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Whoops.

Grade: A-

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