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Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making Of Be Kind Rewind (33 mins 15 secs); Passaic Mosaic – Passaic portrait showing what the area was like and how the film affected the community (10 mins 19 secs); Booker T & Michel Gondry – Michel explains the deleted train scene from the theatrical release and recording with Booker T (6 mins 39 secs); Jack & Mos Improvise Songs – Michel Gondry directs Jack and Mos as they improvise theme songs for the ‘Sweded’ films (4 mins 55 secs); Fats Was Born Here – the full version of the Fats Waller movie featured in Be Kind Rewind (11 mins 25 secs); Audio Description.

IF THERE’S one thing you can pretty much guarantee from a Michel Gondry movie, it’s that you’re going to see something different – offbeat, yes, but always inventive and occasionally inspired.

Gondry’s benchmark movie remains Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind but there was still plenty of fun to be had in last year’s The Science of Sleep and, to a much lesser extent, Human Nature. Be Kind Rewind, his latest, is another success even though it has to work harder to win you over.

When video store owner Mr Fletcher (Danny Glover) leaves trusted employee Mike (Mos Def) in charge of things while he goes to spy on the opposition, the latter is dismayed when his careless best friend Jerry (Jack Black) erases all of the tapes following an accident at an electricity plant.

In order to keep his few remaining customers happy (including Mia Farrow) Mike desperately teams up with Jerry to do instant remakes of Hollywood hits that quickly prove popular with the neighbourhood. And it’s not long before the guerrilla filmmakers are struggling to cope with demand and the unwanted attention of film company execs (headed by Sigourney Weaver).

Be Kind Rewind is at its funniest and most charming when recreating (or “Sweding”) Hollywood movies such as Ghostbusters (inspired), Rush Hour 2 (hilarious) and Driving Miss Daisy (really, really funny). But it’s less successful when building the relationship between Jerry and Mike. Part of the problem lies with Black, who needs to reign in some of his manic tendencies, while some of the early humour is simply too offbeat.

But a secondary story involving an old jazz legend’s links to the community enables Gondry to drop in some clever cameos and contributes to the film’s moving finale, while Glover and Def are both superb. The background attention to detail is also first-rate with plenty to keep your eye on throughout the shelves of the video store.

In the final analysis, however, it’s the remakes you’ll remember most fondly and which will probably leave you craving more. Gondry, meanwhile, continues to enhance his reputation as one of the most inventive directors around.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD Release: June 30, 2008