Monday, February 25, 2008

Be Kind Rewind Review

Be Kind Rewind is a visual treat and a great film.

Be Kind Rewind, contrary to the trailer and popular belief, is not about two young men recreating famous films in an effort to save a VHS rental shop. Nor is it an over-the-top Jack Black comedy. The film, however, is about two men establishing a place in their environment and finding a passion for filmmaking along the way.

Jerry and Mike are two characters stuck in a rut. Mike, played by Mos Def, is an employee at a small-time VHS shop in an under-developed end of town. His friend Jerry, portrayed by Jack Black, is a slightly-delusional mechanic who lives in a trailer a block away. The two lack any sort of motivation but that all changes when the VHS shop's owner, Danny Glover, leaves town. Due to an event I won't spoil in this review Jerry becomes magnetized. VHS tapes and magnets don't mix and when Jerry enters the shop all the rentals go blank. Struggling to keep the store above water while the boss is away the duo start "Sweding" recreations of each film over its erased tape. The videos start generating a buzz and soon the shop is attracting more customers than ever.

The film's story may read as your typical "save the business" film but it's far from it. Director Michel Gondry has created a practical visual masterpiece that is far from traditional filmmaking. It jumps around as you wouldn't expect and at no time does it feel like you're in familiar territory or a moment borrowed from another film. It's such a joy to see what the French director pulls out of his bag of tricks and it never disappoints. While some will say Be Kind Rewind is not as visually stimulating as Gondry's past work it is still quite an artistic accomplishment.

Another complaint I've heard from a few critics is that the "Sweded" scenes in Be Kind Rewind break up the flow of the film and take you out of the experience. I disagree. Watching Mike and Jerry recreate scenes from Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, King Kong, and more is hilarious and kept me entertained throughout the film. It didn't break the fourth wall nor did it remove me from my element.

The acting in Be Kind Rewind is well worth a second look. Mos Def really delivers a terrific heartfelt performance in a breakout role. Jack Black is also quite good in the film. I'm not a fan of his but I have to admit he comes quite a long way with his performance. His character is rounded and develops naturally as the movie progresses, something not seen from Black before this film. Danny Glover is also terrific in the limited amount of scenes he's in. His has a very respected presence but doesn't fail to capture the comedic side of his character. Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz, and Irv Gooch are also great in the film.

I really enjoyed Be Kind Rewind. It's not as tightly polished as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but is still an excellent film. Michel Gondry is quickly becoming the most original visionary working in the business and it's a joy to see what he'll put on screen in every new feature film or music video he directs.

One Sentence Review: A complete treat of a film. | 8.1/10

Have you seen Be Kind Rewind? Post a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

Also, if you haven't seen it already, Michel Gondry Sweded a the film's trailer and posted it on YouTube a few days ago. Check it out below:


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