Based in a VHS-only video rental store, it's not quite clear what year "Be Kind Rewind" takes place in; however the do-it-yourself spirit it embraces is timeless. It's a movie that attempts to lead by example - showing the audience that they too can take charge of their lives and create their own entertainment featuring the skills and stars of the local community.
And it's directors' Michel Gondry's, most accessible feature film yet. Not as abstract as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or as emo as "The Science of Sleep", "Be Kind Rewind" plays out as a light hearted comedy with a power to the people message underneath. Like his previous "Block Party" movie he made with Dave Chappelle, Michel Gondry efforts reveal a 'how to' path for bringing a neighborhood together for a 'cause'.
"Be Kind Rewind's" punk-like ethics reaches out for some mainstream appeal as it features a roster of known stars which includes Danny Glover and Mia Farrow in supporting roles. Jack Black plays another Jack Black type of character named Jerry, however as he's involved with this wacky scheme to make things right, his now over used persona is somehow less annoying than usual. Mos Def stands out as Mike, the video store's adopted son who against his own best judgment gets wrapped up in a crazy plan with Jerry where they don custom camouflage gear that pays out with a silly sight gag that will bring the smiles as you groan in disbelief.
Of course Jerry's plan goes awry and results in disaster for the struggling video store, when all of its movies are erased. The pair attempts to fix it by making their own versions of popular movies. Creating everything themselves, they star, shoot, and make their own special effects such as the stings of Christmas tree garland attached to vacuum cleaners strapped to their backs while running through the local library for their handmade remake of "Ghostbusters". This process is eventually called 'sweding' by the 'Be Kind' team, a word that makes the name of a country a verb and is made up to cover themselves when faced with a group of angry customers who want more of their 'sweded' movies.
And then let the 'sweding' begin. The movie hits its stride when the snowball effect happens as the crew enlists the aid of everyone in town to help produce a catalog of 'sweded' films. Everything from "Rush Hour 2" to "2001" gets redone in a montage of lo-fi 'sweded' fun. And almost as proof that the audience watching Be Kind Rewind has begun to care for the collection of 'sweded' films too, you hear gasps around you when Sigourney Weaver turns up and carries out the enforcement end of copyright law.
This drastic scene acts leads to the final act of the movie, when the community rallies together and graduates from creating re-makes to making their own original movie, based on made-up local legends about the great jazz artist Fats Waller. The "Be Kind Rewind" sentiment is sweet, sometimes hokey, but it always feels like its heart is in the right place.
Learning more about Michel Gondry's DIY philosophy in our interview with him next week, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2008 - Purple - Air Date: 2/20/08
Be Kind Rewind
USA - 2008