As I mentioned in my review of The Science of Sleep, I’m a big fan of Gondry, I think he’s great, I loved The Science of Sleep and I think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. However. Be Kind Rewind is not. Ah, I don’t really want to be too hard it on… it wasn’t awful… but it wasn’t good.
Briefly, Be Kind Rewind is about a couple of guys, Jerry and Mike, who work/hang out in a local video store in a neighbourhood which city planners are set to turn into a souless shopping mall (or something along those lines anyway). Jerry is a bit of a conspiracy nut and could be fairly defined as a loser. Mike on the other hand has a bit more character about him, he’s a neighbourhood boy who wants to prove to the father figure in his life that he can do more with himself. Mike’s chance comes when that father figure – Elroy Fletcher (played by Danny Glover) leaves him in charge of the store. So far, so fine and dandy. Except that Jerry somehow manages to become magnetised and as a result wipes all the tapes in the video store thereby ruining the store and Mike’s chance to prove himself. “Oh no!” I hear you say. Fortunately they come up with an idea… to recreate the films they’ve wiped and rent them out instead… it’s a crazy plan but it just might work!
Anyway, the plan does take off and the plot goes from there. Unfortunately the film never really does. There were a couple problems that I see with it. The biggest problem I think it had was that it never really worked out what it wanted to be. Gondry has a tendency toward… a certain whimsical sweetness in his films… and there was a bit of that, with the “Fats Waller” sub-plot and the plight of the video store in the face of development, however they were never made much more of. Also there was the idea of the relationship between Mike and Elroy which was never really worked on. Instead the film is kind of taken over by the, admittedly funny, takes on the wiped videos. Which would have been fine if they really had taken over the film, except that they didn’t either, instead there was this mish-mash of different themes and genres that never really came together. Add to this the fact that Jack Black pretty much played the same character that he always plays in comedies… which would have been find if this was just an out and out comedy… but it wasn’t and it just became annoying.
All in all I think the Be Kind Rewind was really a lost opportunity. Now I’m not sure what direction I would have preferred Gondry to have taken with it but I am sure that it was a lost chance for Jack Black to do something a little different, in the same way that Jim Carrey did in Eternal Sunshine. I blame the director though, I do think that Jack Black is capable of playing other roles, I just think that Gondry was content to let him do his thing, there was so little direction in the film anyway that it hardly mattered. It was a real pity it didn’t really work though, I mean The Science of Sleep was a mish-mash but there was enough of a core there with the relationship between Stéphane and Stéphanie to hold it altogether while Be Kind Rewind had nothing like that.
Anyway I know I’m kind of slating it so I want to be clear – it’s not that I was expecting a lot more from it just because it’s a Gondry film and he’s one of a favourite directors. I was a bit apprehensive going into it anyway and I didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately it just turned out to not be a very good film… *shrug* It was pretty funny in parts… I’d really like to watch more of the re-made videos… but that’s about it really.