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Michael Gondry is a filmmaker I've had my eye on for quite sometime. In 2001 he made an extremely offbeat comedy, Human Nature, that didn't totally work, but it had such outrageous ideas that it caught my attention. He started out as a commercial and music video director, making my all time favorite video in 2003, The Hardest Button to Button by The White Stripes. In 2004, from a script by the brilliantly-demented Charlie Kaufman, he directed one of the greatest romantic comedies ever, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His next film, The Science of Sleep, was again a bit uneven, but presented a bunch of way out there moments, that made it definitely worth seeing.

When I heard about the plot for Be Kind Rewind I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for him to explore his tendency to
incorporates different film aesthetics and animation styles into his films. Including stop-motion effects, which is a favorite of mine. What better way to get into all these different styles than to "remake" a bunch of Hollywood classics with Jack Black and Mos Def at the helm? And those scenes, especially the classic Ghostbusters remake, are the highlight of the film.

It's the rest of the film which takes place in the "real world", that lacks luster, isn't completely cohesive, and most disappointing of all, boring. I haven't been bored by a Gondry film yet, sure I've been put off by things that didn't work, but there was always something strange enough going on to keep it interesting. But the story about Danny Glover losing his video store to corporate developers wasn't fresh, there wasn't enough drama built to make me care. (And honestly it's not surprising he's losing the store, renting out VHS tapes, in a DVD/Netflix age.)

But there's enough of Jack Black messing around in front of the camera, playing everyone from Miss Daisy to Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2, to keep the film interesting. Gondry's filmmaking styles flourish when he's focusing on the oddball aspects of the film, but when they're trying to wring some drama out of the been-there, seen-it-before plot, it's too tired to work. Danny Glover and Mia Farrow, who I've always respected, drag down every scene they're in. Sigorney Weaver, makes an appearance towards the end of the film, brings some life to the losing the store plot, but it's way too late. The amateur movie moments are fun, but they're not cohesive
; jumping back and forth between inspired movie-making scenes to boring drama. Be Kind Rewind is too uneven to truly work as a film. - Grade: C+ (Seen on 7/4/08)

1 Response to Be Kind Rewind:

  1. C+, huh? Too bad. I would have given it a B, maybe a B+. It tries so hard and has so many parts that bring a smile to my face. A few more remakes would have been nice though.