Directed by: Michel Gondry
Premise: When a dimwitted pair (Jack Black and Mos Def) accidentally magnetize and erase the VHS stock of their video store, they recreate the movies with a handheld video camera. The new versions of customer favorites turn around the success of the store.
What Works: The second half of the film is the strongest as the pair create half-assed but earnest remakes of Hollywood films, especially the remakes of Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy. As the store customers begin to place orders for further remakes and participate in the projects, Be Kind Rewind moves out of parody and toward more interesting and even subversive themes. The film ends up taking on Hollywood’s paranoia about piracy and its monopoly on film production and distribution as studio lawyers step in to shut down the remakes. It’s not a major democratic manifesto but Be Kind Rewind does manage to use some subtle commentary on the film business and its relationship to consumers to give itself some depth.
What Doesn’t: The picture is slow to get started, dragging its feet getting the store’s library magnetized and setting the plot in motion. Although the remakes are creative, the film is not as funny as might be expected coming from stars Jack Black and Mos Def. The film realizes this and goes for the joy the participants take in making the films. Still, those looking for comedy may be a little disappointed.
Bottom Line: The film, like its main characters, is a little weak in its execution but its heart is in the right place and the film’s attempts both at humor and at celebrating movies and the filmmaking process is very sincere.
Episode: #181 (March 9, 2008)