Monday, June 30, 2008

Video Saved the Video Store: Be Kind Rewind

Jack Black always plays an annoying guy, but in almost every film he is in he is actually is very funny. In this film, he manages to be annoying while not providing us with any real humor. He does not fit into a movie about re-shooting movies, because he is not that type of guy. Mos Def is fine in this role, but Black makes the movie unsuccessful. You would think with a director like Michel Gondry (who pieced together Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of the most creative films of the last twenty years), who is witty, visionary, and artistic, that this film would be a success.

But let me sum it up for you: it really isn't. The premise is good, about remaking famous movies, but the execution is off. Be Kind Rewind is a video store not unlike your local movie rental business. It sells the same movies that any place sells. But it violates building codes and is in a zone that the city (Passaic, New Jersey, to be exact) wants to make it some sort of housing complex or something. But if the store, run by Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover), can raise a high amount of money (like $60,000) so it can be renovated, the city I guess will have mercy. Fletcher, at this time, is just about to embark on a train ride to go to some sort of Fats Waller memorial (he's his hero) and leaves the store over to assistant Mike (Def).

Fletcher also tells Mike not to let Mike's kooky friend Jerry (Black) into the store, because Jerry means trouble. Jerry, meanwhile, is planning to sabotage his local power plant, and, in the process, is magnetized. So when Jerry comes into the store, he erases all the tapes. So people get mad and demand their money back. Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) gives them another chance, as she wants to see "Ghostbusters." She doesn't know what it's about, so that gives Mike and Jerry some leeway. Mike decides to re-shoot the movie. This is two of three sequences that charmed me. They do the works: ominous file cabinets moving in and out (courtesy of Jerry), a lit-on-fire Marshmallow Man, a negative night sequence, on and on. It actually is a job well done. It fools her, I guess.

Meanwhile, another guy wants "Rush Hour 2." This goes smoothly, until Wilson (Irv Gooch), Jerry's mechanic who is doubling as Ziyi Zhang's villain, quits. They have to find a replacement, and they go to the laundromat. They find Alma (Melonie Diaz), who fills the void and completes the film. She becomes the third part of the Be Kind Rewind video machine, and together, they go on to film many films (including "Robocop", "The Lion King", "King Kong", and "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Then, they start to include other people and they make films. Among these films is "2010: The Year We Make Contact", a censored "Boogie Nights", and "The Cell"? What? No wonder it's just listed in the montage sequence (like in a Time hits commercial) then actually shown. CRAPPY SPOILER WARNING: Then, the copyright people come in and ruin everything by destroying all the tapes and making a fool out of the guys. Then, the town and the store unite to make a fictional biography of Fats Waller's life (because, he was born in the same building as Be Kind Rewind!). The making of the film is odd, because it allows the people to have equipment that studios use, while still trying to maintain that low-budget feel that has been long lost. In the end, the guy from the superstore (West Coast Video) lends them the projector and the film is viewed and even Mr. Demolition Head is charmed. That's the end that it all comes crashing to. END OF THAT

Anyways, the acting, on the most part, is a travesty. Black, Glover, Farrow, and Diaz turn in really mediocre performances that are not Gondry standard. Def is good as Mike, though. The scenes in between the amateur shoots were soapy and irrelevant. They brought this movie to its knees. The timing, as with almost every film these days, is way off. And the humor is too. This movie fails to be amusing. The movie is so desperate to be amusing I wouldn't have been surprised if Mike's character was named Ben. Black isn't funny, at all. His "Sweded" joke turns out to be very dumb. And that's what the whole advertising campaign is based on. Bottom line: this movie compares with its' rival Son of Rambow, and that's not a compliment. This movie begs to be re-shot itself. C

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