One thing you always know going into a Michel Gondry
movie (Science of Sleep
, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
) is that you are going to see something quite unique. Love or hate what he does, Gondry will always show you something you've never seen before.
Buried within Passaic, New Jersey is a tiny little video store that is still clinging to the past. In the age of digital DVDs (and now Blu-Ray) the "Be Kind Rewind" store is still holding onto their vast VHS library to cater to the simple members of their little community. Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) owns the store and entrusts the daily responsibilities to the simple, kind-hearted Mike (Mos Def). Mike's longtime friend Jerry (Jack Black) is a mechanic with a host of wild conspiracy theories about the power plant near his house, which he believes is slowly poisoning him.
Mr. Fletcher claims that the video store was also the former home of Jazz great Fats Waller, entertaining Mike with tails of the great musician's humble upbringing. When Mr. Fletcher decides to take a trip to commemorate Fats' death, he leaves Mike in charge with one simple caveat -- keep Jerry out. And everything is going fine for Mike until Jerry decides to wage war with the power plant. He unwittingly magnetizes himself and, when he goes to visit Mike at the store, winds up erasing all the tapes. This sends Mike and Jerry into a desperate effort to keep the store afloat with all the tapes erased. Of course, now the only possible solution is to re-shoot all the movies themselves from scratch. Makes sense, right? What is originally intended as a temporary fix turns out to be a hit in the community and soon everyone wants their movie rental "sweded" (the new term for their homemade remakes).
Entering into Michel Gondry's world means surrendering reality at the door and Be Kind Rewind is no different. If you think too much about the logistics of Mike and Jerry's situation, you are clearly missing the point. You also won't really enjoy the movie very much. The plot of Be Kind Rewind is completely and utterly ridiculous and it is well aware of that fact.
Watching Mike and Jerry recreate scenes from movie classics like Ghostbusters (featuring pipe cleaners as proton streams), Rush Hour 2 (airborne fights on a jungle gym) and Driving Miss Daisy(Jack Black as Jessica Tandy = Priceless) is a riot.
Black is so over-the-top and Mos is so lovable, the two work well together as an unlikely comedy duo. They appear to have had a lot of fun making this movie and recreating all of the movie moments and that fun spills over into the experience of watching Be Kind Rewind.
Gondry is generally associated with his strong visual sense, but Be Kind has a very homemade look to it, much as his previous effort, Science of Sleep, did. This is clearly intentional and it does suit the overall feel of the movie. This is a simple film about simple people who love movies. It strays far away from any film-snob pretensions, choosing pop culture mainstream modern cinema as a reference point rather than cinematic classics.
Be Kind doesn't have the deep, lingering messages of Eternal Sunshine and it doesn't have the mind trips of Science of Sleep. In the end, it is an enjoyable little fluffy bit of fun that entertains as escapism much like the very movies Mike and Jerry are sweding.