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Friday, February 29, 2008

Film: Be Kind Rewind

A large percentage of cinema-goers who will see the Be Kind Rewind trailer before deciding to see the film will certainly be caught off-guard by this. What initially appears to be another plain old slapstick comedy turns into something far more interesting. Good old Michel Gondry, he’ll always keep you on your toes.

It’s all fairly straightforward. Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) owns a run-down video store and he leaves his loyal employee, Mike (Mos Def), in charge while he takes a few days off to work out how to fend off the threat of imminent closure. Mike’s error-prone friend, Jerry (Jack Black), subsequently manages to wipe every single videotape clean by magnetising himself whilst attempting to sabotage the local power-plant. The only way to keep the customers happy is for the hapless pair to film their own versions of the tapes with surprising results.

Sounds like a goof-a-thon, right? Well, partly. Certainly whenever Glover’s character is off-screen it’s a barrel of laughs. Mos Def and Jack Black surprisingly make quite the comic pairing. Cue the hilarity as a sudden horror-movie soundtrack plays with the duo pulling agonized faces as they realise the tapes are all blank. Throw in the neat effect of the whole cinema screen warping and fizzing with static as Black approaches and you’ve got comedy gold. Melonie Diaz’s character adds another dimension as they all set about shooting zero-budget remakes of ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Rush Hour 2’, ‘King Kong’ - whatever the customers ask for. Director Michel Gondry refused to allow his stars to view the original films before they shot them which might explain why the subsequent mayhem has a particularly random flavour to it. Black, for instance, had never seen ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and his dismal portrayal of the lead character leads to some clever on-the-spot scripting or possibly witty improvisation by his fellow actors. Each of their quick-fix films features ingenious ways of pulling off those famous scenes - the use of a cement-mixer to recreate the ‘Men In Black’ tunnel car-chase is a fine example of what’s on offer.

On Mr. Fletcher’s return, however, there’s a sudden lull in events. Glover’s character is the father figure embodying the gloom of the financial state of the store. It doesn’t appear to be intentional but his re-introduction effectively instantly changes the impetus of the film from comedy to sentimentality. Despite the anti-climactic feel to subsequent events it brings with it a change of pace, a chance to re-evaluate and inject warmth into the film. Suddenly the importance of the town, its heritage and its people are of higher importance and with the main characters established it gives us a different picture entirely.

In the final analysis there are parts of the plotline that remain undeveloped and there’s a patchy understanding of realism but then, like Gondry’s past films, those things have never been high priority. You could watch this bitter-sweet, and surprisingly quirky, film for many reasons but I feel, perversely, you may end up disappointed by the very reason for which you went.

This website is well worth a peek at. From here you can view trailers of all the film remakes the cast did: http://www.bekindmovie.com/


© Johnskibeat

Commissioned by Local Secrets online magazine...
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