You know when you when you dive into the mind of Michel Gondry the water’s bound to be a little choppy. This man has the most astoundingly unique and vibrant mind, and his films are often glorious excursions into homemade absurdity.
Since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, however, it’s been a little disappointing. The Science of Sleep felt weighed down by the weird, and might in fact have been more effective had it kept things simpler. Be Kind Rewind is even more of a disappointment, however. It’s a strange beast – I was expecting a hilarious flick, but what I actually got was an admittedly genuine and heartfelt drama. The trailer actually contained all the punch lines, so if you’ve seen that you’re not going to laugh too hard.
When Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally wipes all the tapes in the video store in which he works, he and his mate Mike (Mos Def) are forced to come up with a replacement for their devoted customers. This effectively means re-creating homemade, no-budget versions of the movies. The results are pretty impressive. Michel Gondry’s genius lies in his ability to make physical special effects, so watching Mike and Jerry recreate 2001: A Space Odyssey or Men in Black is fantastic.
What’s surprising is that the film gets quite as sentimental as it does. It isn’t too clear exactly what the deep and meaningful notion of Be Kind Rewind is, but it has to do with the idea of fractured communities in the modern digital age. Or something.
It’s amazing how many roles appear for Jack Black, who doesn’t really have that great a range. He’s perfect as Jerry, as is Mos Def as Mike. Danny Glover seems to have slipped into ‘old man’ mode rather effectively, and it’s great to see Sigourney Weaver playing bit parts (like in The Village and Vantage Point) these days, something very few older performers attempt (hello, Harrison Ford).
Unfortunately, Be Kind Rewind simply doesn’t have enough going for it. There are dull patches and subplots that are dropped almost as soon as they are initiated. The sentimentality is likely to piss off those simply wanting a bit of a laugh, and many will find the extended final act rather tiresome.
An entertaining diversion, and not without its positive qualities, Be Kind Rewind is a bit of an oddity, but nothing to get excited about.Rating: