Be Kind Rewind (New Line, PG-13)

film_be-kind_sm.jpgWatching the film I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole experience would be a lot more enjoyable if you watched the Sweded movies on YouTube and skipped the stupid movie that they are contained in.

 

 

 

 

 

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In the age of VHS, Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally gets magnetized and then unwittingly goes into his friend Mike’s (Mos Def) video rental store and erases all of the tapes. Jerry and Mike then make homemade versions of all of the erased movies to replace the damaged copies to keep their customers (among them, Mia Farrow’s Miss Falewicz) and their boss Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) happy. Michel Gondry (of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) directs. Sounds like a classic.

No, really. Gondry is one of the most interesting and visually inventive directors to come about in years, and the prospect of him making short films with Black and Def, both underutilized but potentially great comedic actors, sounds wonderful. Watch the trailers for the film—they remake Ghostbusters! And Back to the Future! And The Lion King, for God’s sake! The Lion King!

But no, Be Kind Rewind sucks. Hard. Although I have the utmost respect for Gondry and think he still has great things and surprises under his belt, keep in mind that he has only ever directed one good feature film (that being Eternal Sunshine, but that is one of maybe ten indisputable masterpieces of the new millennium); his last film, The Science of Sleep won The Sucker’s Movie Award for 2006 (an award that I am the sole member of the jury on), and his first feature, Human Nature, was awful, despite having a Charlie Kaufman script. His music videos and commercial work are similarly hit and miss, too. While his spot for The White Stripes’ "Fell in Love With a Girl" is one of the most exciting music videos I can think of, his commercial for Levi’s low-rise jeans that involved a belly button lip-synching "I’m Coming Out" made me want to hide under the covers.

Anyway, the reason that Be Kind Rewind sucks is that it is unfunny and schmaltzy, two things one would not think it ever would be. Jerry and Mike have to save Mr. Fletcher’s store because it’s about to go out of business anyway; the film apparently takes places when DVD is taking over the home video market, except that, when it comes down to it, the film’s production design does not ever really make sense with regard to what year it might actually be; look at the VHS tapes in the background of many of the scenes and look up what year they came out, and try to decide for yourself what year this movie is set in. His regular customers are too clueless to switch to DVDs, and any interruption in their rental habits might tip them off on the industry switch. Essentially, the film plays pretty much like Gondry directing that abomination Empire Records.

Of course, the film picks up when Jerry and Mike start remaking (or "Sweding," as they dub it) movies, and their Sweded movies are a true joy. However, watching the film, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole experience would be a lot more enjoyable if you watched the Sweded movies on YouTube and skipped the stupid movie that they are contained in. Then, much to my surprise during the credit roll (keep in mind that I saw this film almost two months before its release), I found out that you can watch all of the Sweded movies online and for free, and not have to watch the stupid rest of the movie! In fact, if you’re reading this review right now, you might have done that already! (I like to remain willfully ignorant about films prior to my having seen them, so I, unlike a lot of other people, didn’t have the slightest idea that this was an option.) So go to bekindrewind-themovie.com, watch all of the Sweded movies (the Ghostbusters one is the best, but the others are definitely worth watching—best use of a pizza in a movie ever), and skip this sappy, poopy mess. | Pete Timmermann

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