Be Kind Rewind - Cinema Review

The Be Kind Rewind Video Store sits in a crumbling corner of the big city, quietly… well… rotting actually. That is until Jack Black and Mos Def’s loveable losers Jerry and Mike erase all of the tapes through a series of variously unbelievable events. Due to over-eager direction from passionate Frenchman Michel Gondry and even more over-eager editing by Jeff Buchanan the premise isn’t the only unbelievable event that occurs over the movies runtime. However, the simple charm, epitomised in the name shared by both film and store, is enough to see it through.

Ably supported by the Hollywood weight of Danny Glover, Black and Def have a riot playing Jerry and Mike, crafting an obvious bond on-set which happily transfers well to the screen. Both cope well with a skilfully judged mixture of slapstick and clever geek-comedy which ensures the audience are never left wanting. Never does the relationship feel forced or staged and Gondry carefully resists exploring possible love interest Alma (Melonie Diaz) instead focussing on the relationship between the three men, their shop and the surrounding neighbourhood.

It is unusual to find a mainstream, big-budget movie with a (quote, un-quote) ‘message’ and on the odd occasion one does arrive it often feels like it is trying to ram it down the audiences respective throats rather than present it judiciously. It is questionable whether Gondry has a message because if he does then it is likely to be something like, ‘death to DVD, save the VCR!’ However, Be Kind Rewind certainly wants to tell us something and that something is a subtle reminder of the joy and community that can be found in film and cinema. The simple charm of Jerry and Mike’s movie re-makes are endearing and often hilarious, a fact not lost on the neighbouring population, nor the cinematic audience. This is a film not afraid of its shortcomings; it wants you to sit and enjoy, much like its protagonists do, rather than pick holes by skipping backwards two scenes.

The film is occasionally too liberal with its own rules and both Gondry and Buchanan are guilty of neglecting key scenes. While the relationship between Alma, Mike and Jerry is carefully handled it is also handled with a speed which feels unrealistic. One moment Alma is working in a dry-cleaning store and shouting at Jerry, the next she is helping the boys with every film they make. Mia Farrow’s turn as the rather odd Miss Falewicz is almost too odd for its own good and her relationship with the store and more specifically Danny Glover’s Mr Fletcher is never explained to a satisfactory extent. Similarly an apparently rough neighbourhood seem all to eager to engage in a spot of amateur film, without actually being invited by anyone specifc.

Be Kind Rewind’s conclusion can also, quite rightly, be accused of over-sentimentality. However, Gondry still resists pushing it to the maximum and reveals a tentativeness which just about ensures his film stays grounded in the lap of reality. There are holes here, and plenty of them, but to take these to heart is to forget the message of the film; it doesn’t matter if the production is a bit ropey, sit down, enjoy, and please, rewind after use.

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