There are some values that have become lost in our modern day society that at one point we cherished. Many of us take for granted our neighbors and friends and go through life feeling alone. Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind is on the surface a comedic story of two friends Jerry and Mike, who remake films for their customers after Jerry becomes magnetized and erases every tape in Mike's video store. Beneath that exterior lies a touching exploration into the forgotten values of unity and friendship. Although it is refreshing to see such ideals being displayed, they don't exactly make for a very exciting film. Although I have already given you a brief synopsis of the plot, I'll paint a more elaborate picture for you. Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover) owns and operates a rundown video store in Passaic, New Jersey called Be Kind Rewind. When Mr. Fletcher goes away to honor the passing of a jazz legend that was supposedly born in his building, he leaves Mike (Mos Def) in charge of the store. Before he goes he leaves Mike one warning, and that is to keep Jerry (Jack Black) away. After a freak accident at a power plant, Jerry is left magnetized and confused and ends up in Be Kind Rewind. Sure enough, Jerry causes problems as he ends up erasing every tape in the store. When frequent customer Miss Faliwicz (Mia Farrow) comes to rent Ghostbusters, Jerry and Mike desperately put together their own version of the film, hoping Miss Faliwicz wouldn't know the difference. Surprisingly, the video becomes popular and the entire neighborhood stops by to have a film of their choice "sweded". Be Kind Rewind has plenty of heart, but lackluster performances and a dull script keep it from achieving greatness.
French born director Michel Gondry has become famous for his vivid and whimsical imagination and his ability to transfer it onto the screen. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (a film of which I am a huge fan of), Gondry touched on the subject of love and the joy it could give you, and also the great lengths you would go through to erase it from your memory. The reason he was able to turn that film into such an accomplishment was his oddball humor, his amazing script, and his unique cinematography. In Be Kind Rewind, Gondry does not delve into an emotion that we all endure, but instead discusses the bond between friends and the happiness that can be shared with one another. This message was especially potent with me, as I just so happen to enjoy making short films with my friends. Seeing the characters put together a poorly shot, almost completely improvised film struck a chord with me, as it was all too familiar. Be Kind Rewind is not without bizarre humor, especially in a scene where Jerry unleashes a river of magnetized urine down the street, attracting mufflers and other metal objects as it flowed. Although that scene was particularly outlandish, the rest of the film isn't nearly as ridiculous. The premise of Be Kind Rewind is intriguing, but unfortunately the script that holds up that premise is blandly written and unimpressive. The conflict that arises from these characters actions is predictable and unremarkable. Not to mention the trailers pretty much give away what happens. Finally, the cinematography and direction of Be Kind Rewind are trite and simple. With the exception of a continuous shot of the main characters filming several films at once, there is no originality or memorable scenes. The dazzle that Gondry gave to me in Eternal Sunshine was noticeably absent from this picture, and it is very disappointing.
Performances are another downfall that plague Be Kind Rewind. The characters are meant to be relatable and loveable, but I felt neither of these emotions watching this film. With the exception of Jack Black, there were absolutely no bright spots in the entire cast. Possibly the only good rapper turned actor Mos Def wasn't so good in his role as Mike. Unenthusiastic speaking and a constant thousand mile stare had me thinking somebody swapped out the real Mos Def for a pod person that looked just like him. Danny Glover is practically negligible as Mr. Fletcher, the owner of Be Kind Rewind. Much like Mos Def, Glover seems unenthusiastic and doesn't seem right for this film. If you would have put Def in Glover's role and vice verse, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Neither provided humor to the film, nor did they provoke any sort of feeling that made me interested in their life. As I mentioned, Jack Black gave the only truly enjoyable performance in the film. He actually seemed fit for his role. Playing the eccentric Jerry was effortless for Black, as he is a bit of an eccentric himself. His endless humor helped save Be Kind Rewind from sinking to the depths of garbage.
Be Kind Rewind runs a little above 100 minutes, but it does go by pretty quickly. Despite the fact that not much happens, the film doesn't lag so it doesn't bore you to tears. And although the performances were interchangeable and lackluster, I still found myself watching the film voluntarily, instead of wriggling in my chair waiting for it to end. Even though the number of negatives outweighed the number of positives, I was still mildly enthused. The majority of the entertainment came from watching Mos Def and Jack Black put their own spin on movies such as Ghostbusters. I for one have been a Ghostbusters fanatic since I was a little boy (I even had a proton pack that I would run around my house with), so it was extremely amusing to watch them remake it. Be Kind Rewind is simply a nice film with a good message and a big heart. I am just barely recommending it for your viewing pleasure, but do not expect another Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My rating (5.5/10)