Monday, February 25, 2008

Be Kind Rewind

This was a wonderful break from the early year monotony. If you have ever played with a video camera, or ever dreamed of making movies, you'll enjoy this movie. It's not brilliant writing, and much of the plot is just thrown together. But Be Kind Rewind delivers what it promises- fun and laughs.

Michel Gondry has run the gambit from music videos, to the emotionally driven Eternal Sunshine, to the visual feast of The Science of Sleep, to even the documentary about Dave Chappelle. Each of these are completely different, but fantastic in their unique ways. Be Kind Rewind combines some of his innovative film-making, with an inner city urban feel that he probably picked up from Chappelle. Though it's still just a French director's caricatured impression of the ghetto.

The plot is rather simple- the best comedies are. Danny Glover plays Mr. Fletcher, the owner of a video rental store. He leaves on a fact-finding mission of how to bring the store up to code, and leaves the simple minded Mike (Mos Def) in charge. His friend, Jerry (Jack Black), after an accident at a power station becomes magnetized, and erases all of the tapes in the store. In a desperate move to prevent Mr. Fletcher from finding out, they record a home-made version of Ghost Busters in the hopes of deceiving one of their senile customers (Mia Farrow). Word gets out, and soon the two of them, and a neighbor, Alma (Melonia Diaz), are taking requests and remaking everybody's favorite movies.

The movie was not without its faults. Alma is brought in almost randomly with no exposition. Same thing goes with several of the characters. Most of the inconsistencies, and some of the odd directing didn't bother me. The problems with an almost complete lack of motivation in any the characters did bother me. Also, some of the effects were, well, sub-par at best. This wouldn't have been an issue, especially considering the low budget themes, but the use of even mediocre CG work isn't terribly low budget- just poorly done.

The actual production of these remakes was by far the best part. Men in Black, Rush Hour, King Kong, Boyz in the Hood, Carrie, Robocop, Driving Miss Daisy, and countless other movies were all touched by their camcorder. And yes, they even did the Lion King, resulting in the best line in the movie ("any ideas how we're going to shoot an animated movie?") As the movie progresses, more and more neighborhood residents get in on the act, in hopes of saving the store from being foreclosed.

The togetherness that these movies brewed among the community was genuinely heartwarming. I couldn't help but smile seeing the looks on their faces while watching the movies they were starring in. Cheesy, but delightful moments like these made me forgive some the weaker points. It seems Gondry put character development, and any sort of real resolution on the back burner, in favor of focusing on the re-maked movies themselves. That's okay, because that's what makes this movie unique.


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