Movie Review: 'Be Kind Rewind'
It is as if the filmmaker never intends for viewers to be passive participants. To fully enjoy his movies, one must agree to be pulled out of the real plane into a dimension where the real and the fanciful exist in a symbiotic state.
Sure, his "Block Party" was so traditional it hurt. But every artist is allowed at least one of those types of projects to pay the rent.
That's why Gondry's new movie, "Be Kind Rewind" is such a total letdown. It is as if Picasso decided to work in paint-by-numbers, or romance novels became the new standard for fine literature.
"Be Kind Rewind" would be a disappointment by any run-of-the-mill director. But from one who has shown so much potential, this film is not just a failure. It is an insult.
The hackneyed story concerns what happens when all the tapes in a video store get erased. Mike ( Mos Def), the store's fill-in manager, and Jerry ( Jack Black), whose magnetized brain caused the erasings, cook up a plot to recreate the lost movies. Their theory is that their patrons must be so stupid they won't notice because they are still renting VHS tapes and not DVDs.
The pair use anything they can find near their New Jersey home to "swede" such movies as "Ghostbusters," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Robocop." (The term "swede" refers to their amateur attempts to recreate original films.)
Gondry generates a little humor in the scenes where the two losers shoot their movies. The front of a toy car is painted black and subs as the nose of the giant gorilla in "King Kong." Christmas decorations are used for the "Ghostbusters" special effects. Cute.
These moments are good for a smile but really never move past student-film level.
Even a secondary story about the building that houses the video store being the birthplace of jazz great Fats Waller, set to be demolished to make way for new homes, plays trite. Gondry also wrote the script, and it is as lackluster as his visual presentation.
Black turns in one of his typical manic performances while Def shows that he can act. But both are wasted in this production, which might have been forgiven if it were a "sweded" version of a good Gondry film.
Get showtimes and movie details for "Be Kind Rewind."