In Michel Gondry's films, The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the French director has always used old-fashioned, hand-crafted special effects to tell his stories. But in Be Kind Rewind, those old-fashioned, hand-crafted special effects are what the story is all about. The film stars Jack Black and Mos Def as two idiotic friends who are left in charge of Danny Glover's inner city New Jersey video store, only to erase every single tape in stock by accident. When Glover's confidante, Mia Farrow, drops by and demands a copy of Ghostbusters by the end of the afternoon, the two stooges decide that there's only one sensible way to cover their tracks: they'll shoot their own Blue Peter version of Ghostbusters using tin foil costumes and cardboard props, and with the pair of them playing almost every role. Rather than being lynched by furious Dan Aykroyd fans, Black and Def have a cult hit on their hands, and soon people are queuing around the block to rent their shambolic yet inventive remakes of The Lion King, Driving Miss Daisy, King Kong and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But with Glover's shop in danger of closure, will the duo's cottage industry be lucrative enough to save the day?
The home-made blockbusters are hilarious, and Be Kind Rewind is the best showcase for Black's explosive comic persona since School of Rock. But it's almost as off-kilter as the mini-films knocked out by its heroes. Instead of polishing his script to a shine, Gondry has taken some rough-and-ready sketches and gaffer-taped them together into an ungainly film with the cavalier logic of a Gene Kelly musical.
Of all the methods he could have chosen to erase the video tapes he has Black being magnetised by a massive electric shock he receives while trying to sabotage a power plant. The film is set in a universe where people snap, "For duck's sake," instead of the ruder soundalike, and where a shop can still rent nothing but VHS tapes. When someone objects that DVDs are better, Def shrugs, "That's what they said about laser discs".
Watch the 'Be Kind, Rewind' trailer
The quirks might drive some viewers to wish they were making their own film rather than watching Gondry's, but just as many will accept that his unapologetically wayward storytelling is part and parcel of a movie that celebrates personality, creativity and heart over big-budget slickness. By the end, this potty comedy has become an irresistibly tender, joyous Valentine's Card to collaboration and community. Besides, the message is that if you think you can do better, go ahead.Reuse content