Be Kind, Rewind (2008) Michael Gondry

Production Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Gross: about $15 million

Be Kind, Rewind is about Mike (Mos Def) who runs his father Elroy’s (Danny Glover) rundown video store.  While Elroy is away, Mike’s friend Jerry (Jack Black) has a mishap where his brain becomes magnetized and he erases all the VHS tapes in the store.  To save the store from being condemned, Mike and Jerry make 20 minute remakes (or Sweded versions as called in the film) which the community loves and later becomes a part of.  There is also a bizarre subplot in which Elroy and Mike adore Fats Waller (and believe he was born in their store) and later Mike makes a movie about Fats Waller in one final attempt to raise money to save the store (ala Empire Records or any number of movies).

When compared to Gondry’s other works, Be Kind is a major letdown.  That disappointment can be stemmed from rather weak writing.  As I mentioned before, the plot to save a location through a fundraiser by the efforts of cute characters has been done by dozens of films (even by Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo).  And any movie that makes me think of Breakin 2 instantly gets negative points from me.  Be Kind has many plot problems.  No, I’m not talking about the implausibility of someone’s brain being magnetized I am talking about the impossibility of having a video store that runs entirely on VHS tapes.  Let’s just say you have to leave A LOT to movie magic and suspension to disbelief.  Even the ending, which is rather touching, is rather bullshit.  The writing for the characters are also rather inconsistent.  Mike and Jerry switch between lovable losers to really annoying/borderline retarded characters.  It really is schizophrenic.  There are also a few subplots which don’t go anywhere like an aborted romance subplot with Mike.  What else, what else…OH!  The movie takes a long time to get going and setting up the whole plot.  Another thing which might turn people off is the fact that Jack Black is playing Jack Black.  Again!  Really, I like Jack Black and I find he is getting a little old.

Yet despite allllllllll that, I liked this movie.  When we finally get to the Swedes, everything gets better.  The characters get likable and the Swedes are enjoyable.  This is really what we came to see.  The Swedes are funny and the point of these are really to discover our love of movies again.  And as I said before, the ending which is total bull, is still touching.  Gondry has a wonderful visual style and he continues his good work.  There are many visual tricks and tools he uses which are inventive and fun.  Be Kind, Rewind is inconsistent.  There are many flaws with the writing but if you can just relax and overlook that then this is an enjoyable movie.  At least its better than The Science of Sleep.  Ugh.  I bash this movie a lot but I would watch it again.  Who knows, if the trailers appealed to you then you might check it out.  Its a lukewarm recommendation, but it is only a good movie and not great.


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