Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind

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Be Kind Rewind - not quite what I was expecting, but an enjoyably unusual film!

May 11, 2008 (Updated May 12, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Unsappy but moving portrayal of community spirit; some funny bits...

Cons:... could have done with more humour though...

The Bottom Line: It won't be to everyone's taste, but I really enjoyed Be Kind Rewind.


Jack Black and Mos Def star in Be Kind Rewind, a surprisingly charming offbeat comedy. Mike (Mos Def) works in a small video rental store for Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover), who is struggling to keep up with repayments and justify his store’s existence, When Elroy goes on holiday (though he has ulterior motives), Mike is entrusted with the task of keeping the store running. His boss gives him one condition - keep Jerry (Jack Black) away from the store at all cots. Jerry is a strange trap and a failed sabotage attempt on a local facility leaves him magnetic, which is obviously bad news for the tapes. With the entire collection wiped (remember, this is set back in the days of VHS [EDIT - in the last days of VHS when DVDs were gaining ascendency, but the store is still clinging to the older format - thanks EC Mark for the correction]), Mike must find a way to keep his customers happy, and reluctantly enlists Mike’s help. Together they start “sweding” movies - making there own, much shorter versions, starting with Ghostbusters (“I'll be Bill Murray and you'll be everyone else“ … “Are you the Key Holder or the Gate Keeper?”). Since Jerry can’t stomach kissing a guy when they attempt to remake Rush Hour 2, they enlist a young starlet (well, she works at a local Laundromat) named Alma (Melonie Diaz), and a love triangle between her, Jerry and Mike ensues.

Well, not quite - at least not in the way you’ve expect. Nothing in this movie is quite “normal”, which is one reason I liked it, and perhaps one reason why others might not. Be Kind Rewind certainly isn’t a riotously funny movie, though there are some nice moments of humour - the homemade movies can be quite fun, especially the way they portray 2001. Also the scene you’ve probably seen in the trailer - “I will shoot you. And I know robot karate!” is quite fun. Though I can’t find the exact quote, when Elroy is making notes about a successful video rental chain (not actually called Blockbusters though the décor looks similar!), one of the observations he makes is “no special training required” after he asks for a film that the store assistant has never heard of. Well I thought it was funny… but…

The real reason I like this film is because it’s one of the best movies about community spirit that I’ve ever seen (and refreshingly unsentimental about it, too). You see, in order to save the store the whole community end up having to make their own movie, which they decide to do about the historical link between their village and famous musician Fats Waller (who appeared in Stormy Weather), though little historical detail linking him to the place exists. However with a little ingenuity, some improvisation, and perhaps a bit of embellishment (and who knows how many supposedly bona fide documentaries are created in much the same manner?!?), they come up with a documentary they can all be proud of. But will it save the store? You’ll have to find out.

Be Kind Rewind isn’t amazingly funny but it is a lot of fun, as long as you let yourself get swept along in the sheer preposterousness of it all. Jack Black has never yet struck me as being either a great comedian or a great actor, but at least now I’ve seen a film with him in that I’ve enjoyed (didn’t like either King Kong or Nacho Libre, still want to see School of Rock). Mos Def on the other hand I’d never heard of, though a quick look on IMDB reveals that he was Ford Prefect in the 2005 version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which I have steadfastly refused to watch as it looks so awful). At any rate, he was fine in this. It was nice to see Danny Glover here and he played the crotchety store owner with some relish. Melonie Diaz was also pretty good - she didn’t in all honesty have a great deal to do, but she was very amusing in her scenes where she was trying to fit in and be one of the gang, with Mike and Jerry seemingly oblivious to her presence throughout. Mia Farrow plays a character who may or may not be a love interest for Elroy; in general I found her character a little pointless, but she does okay with the material she has.

Overall, Be Kind Rewind isn’t going to be the sort of film that everyone enjoys. If you watch it expecting a hilarious comedy you’re likely to be disappointed. If you want a drama… well you might just like it, but it’s maybe a bit odd for some people’s taste. For an occasionally funny, sometimes touching, sometimes just completely insane. If you’re not sure after reading this review then try it, you might like it. Director Michel Gondry has created quite a unique little film here which bodes well for his future films.

Rated 12A (UK) PG-13 (US) for some sexual references.





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