In 2004, writer/director Michel Gondry dropped onto the scene with the popular Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an imaginative and memorable drama-comedy that cemented his name as an in-demand director. Since then, though, he has directed Dave Chappelle's Block Party and The Science of Sleep, neither of which were particularly great. With Be Kind Rewind he looks to get back on track, and, for the most part, he does.
Be Kind Rewind stars Jack Black and Mos Def as two not-so-smart guys who are put in charge of a video store while its owner (Danny Glover) goes on a business trip. With the store facing rezoning and demolition, Mike (Def) just wants to keep the store intact until his boss and father figure returns. But when Jerry (Black) gets magnetized in a freak audience, Mike finds every video in the store erased. With angry customers and other matters building by the second, Mike and Jerry team up to make their own remakes. What starts as a desperate and hopeless move on their part turns into a community sensation as the neighborhood starts demanding more and more of their creative masterpieces.
Unlike Gondry's other well-known films, Be Kind Rewind is a much more ordinary and mainstream picture. There aren't any psychological allusions or deep character studies; Be Kind Rewind is about two guys who make their own movies after they erase the real ones. As such, its simplicity often pays off; both Def and Black turn in great little performances, the movie is entertaining and the remakes fun to watch. Black is particularly funny as he gets to work with a completely over-the-top character.
Unfortunately, the movie falls apart in the final act as Gondry takes a much more sentimental route than one would expect. While the film recovers a little bit near the end, once the video shop gets shut down by the big movie studios, the movie loses its focus. Essentially, Gondry tears away the most entertaining part of the movie and replaces it with something much more touching, which really isn't a good move. It's not that the final act is bad; it's just not nearly as good as the rest of the movie. There isn't a single joke in the last third of the movie, and that's a bit of a killer for a comedy.
Be Kind Rewind is a pretty good movie, but it could have been a lot better. Regardless of the third act, the movie isn't the funniest picture you'll see this year, but it is an entertaining little film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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