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"Be Kind Rewind"

Directed by Michel Gondry.
Written by Michel Gondry.
Starring Jack Black, Mos Def, Melonie Diaz and Danny Glover.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  3/3/08


I can't think of the last time I was in this much of a downer over new films; with movies like "Jumper" and "Semi-Pro" dominating the box office right now, it's no wonder that I have only seen like eight movies this year.

Luckily, the guy that gave us "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep" is back with his new film, "Be Kind Rewind."  Like those two previous efforts, "Be Kind Rewind" is a bit of a stretch, but it's a fun stretch thanks to great performances from its leads and a simple setup--what if your video store had every tape accidentally erased?

Mos Def stars as Mike, a guy who can only be described as "that guy", living in Passaic, New Jersey, working in a dead-end job with no real hope for a future.  He runs Be Kind Rewind, the local video store that is so far behind the times that they only offer popular films on VHS tape; business is slow, since the store's owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), hasn't made the conversion to those "new age" DVDs.  A mechanic who lives nearby, Jerry (Jack Black), is a regular at the store, but one night after nearly being electrocuted, he walks into the store and through what can only be called movie science (or fantasy, take your pick), Jerry walks around the store and essentially erases every VHS tape in the shop.  When customers start returning their rented movies complaining that the tapes are blank, Mike and Jerry come up with a solution: they'll just remake all of the movies into 20-minute, low-budget replicas of what they used to be.  Oh, and the movies will only feature Mike and Jerry.

This might not sound that funny, but when you see "Be Kind Rewind", the movie's brilliance comes from its retelling of such classics as "Ghostbusters", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Carrie" and then random newer films like "Rush Hour 2."  You absolutely WILL lose your shit when Mike and Jerry remake some of the scenes from "Ghostbusters", or when "Driving Miss Daisy" is redone not once, but twice, during the movie.  "Be Kind Rewind" is a film lover's dream, but I think it also does a good job of capturing the fun of making movies, be it young folks or older people; there's just something great about grabbing a camera and yelling go, go, go!  For me, I had flashes of my straight-to-video action/comedy classic "Gratuitous", right down to the rushed production, funny camera angles and horrific "car chase" sequences that embody rookie filmmaking.

It's that energy, that level of fun that makes "Be Kind Rewind" times.  As with all Jack Black films, you love him or you don't, and if you don't, you just have to suffer through many Jack Black Moments, which can only be described as those moments where he goes temporarily crazy, runs around like his head's on fire, and tries to spout off lines that may be funny or not.  This works in "Nacho Libre", this doesn't work in "Envy", but here in this film, it is so-so.  The Black performance, plus some spots that are just kind of blah (really, any time the movie deal with the movie remake process), make the movie sometimes miss the mark...but, overall, this is good stuff.

Especially compared against what else is out there amongst 2008 releases, "Be Kind Rewind" should get your cash money soon.  Check it out!

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09