Be Kind Rewind Review

Be Kind Rewind
Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), owner of the Be Kind Rewind video store, leaves Mike (Mos Def) in charge while he fundraises to save the building. When the store’s entire stock is erased by Mike’s foul-up friend Jerry (Jack Black), the pair must do instant r

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

22 Feb 2008

Running Time:

100 minutes



Original Title:

Be Kind Rewind

There’s just enough whimsical good humour to carry Be Kind Rewind, but Michel Gondry’s latest does tend to keep crashing into ‘oh come on now, what were you thinking?’ self-indulgence - and a couple of cylinders badly misfire somewhere.

The initial plot device, which has Jack Black’s character zapped during an attempt to wreck a power plant he thinks is microwaving the district, causing him to emerge with magnetising powers, is almost on a par with the similar use of electric shock in Youth Without Youth for sheer beside-the-point lunacy. In fact, the first reel is a shaggy dog meander, full of footnotes about supposed local hero Fats Waller and the old Disney plot about evil property developers who want to shut down the folksy neighbourhood joint.

However, the film takes off when - in order to fulfil a promise to a loyal, if daffy, customer (Mia Farrow) - slacker pals Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Black) have to camcorder their own take on Ghostbusters. Soon, they are doing ‘Sweded’ remakes of the store’s eclectic and largely outdated inventory (Rush Hour 2; Driving Miss Daisy; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Men In Black), and Be Kind Rewind starts delivering sketch-like gags which strike home. Black gets a chance to be in another remake of King Kong, playing the ape this time - though some of the funniest ideas are glimpsed on cassette spines (a lower-budget remake of Gummo?) rather than depicted.

The wavering but ultimately moving third act has baddies from the film industry (including a game Sigourney Weaver) show up to threaten the dubious copyright issues posed by the scheme and with it our heroes’ plans to save their neighbourhood and business.

The film jollies along between magical moments (the Waller film is charming) with the sort of hectoring cutes which get stale quickly, and secondary characters drift in and out as if scads of ‘deleted scenes’ once explained who they were (what is the relationship between Mike and the manager of the rival DVD/video store, for instance?).

The remake/parody sequences - trailers for which are on the official site - are outstanding, but Black’s all-over-the-place mania and Mos Def’s slightly too bland orphan hero don’t quite tie the rest of the picture together. Still, it has heart. And you’d
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