Be Kind Rewind (Alliance, 2008) D: Michel Gondry, w/ Mos Def, Jack Black. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
In conventional feel-good movie terms, Be Kind Rewind isn’t very good. On its own terms, it works just fine.
Much of its amiable charm comes from the story. Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) are a pair of likeable losers who accidentally erase all the videotapes in the store where Mike works. To replace them, they start making their own versions of Hollywood hits, but trouble looms: studio execs want to slap them in jail, the city wants to tear down the building, and Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) keeps threatening to rat them out to the store owner (Danny Glover), who’s away at a Fats Waller memorial party.
It sounds like traditional uplift – little guys triumph over corporate meanies – but director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) is more interested in embedding his characters in their community and promoting a do-it-yourself aesthetic than he is in easy emotion and big-star close-ups.
Most of the film’s flaws have to do with Jack Black, whose low comedy shtick clashes with the other actors’ naturalistic comic performances. Sadly, Gondry makes Black look even more out-of-place with abrupt cuts that interrupt perfectly good scenes merely to highlight his mugging.
The brief making-of doc focuses mostly on the people and city of Passaic, New Jersey, where the flick is shot and set.
EXTRAS Making-of doc. Widescreen.