Be Kind Rewind
Directed by Michel Gondry (PG-13)
When a video store’s tapes are wiped clean, two friends create their own film classics.
Only Michel Gondry could dream up the “so-naïve-it’s-ingenious” Be Kind Rewind, said Chris Lee in the Los Angeles Times. The French writer-director’s latest venture in surrealistic storytelling turns Jack Black and Mos Def into “accidental auteurs.” After an unfortunate accident at a power plant, Black becomes “magnetized” and erases all the VHS tapes in his friend’s video store. So the two men begin shooting abbreviated home-movie versions of the most popular films and soon find that customers love theirs more than the originals. The “film-within-a-film idea” has been done before, but Gondry spiritedly reimagines nearly 20 classics, said Jennifer Hillner in Wired. With an archaic camcorder and a collection of hilariously cheap props, his cast remakes everything from King Kong to 2001: A Space Odyssey with “improvisation, ingenuity, and a good deal of chaos.” Cheese pizza stands in for a pool of blood in Boyz N the Hood and Christmas tinsel replaces Ghostbusters’ ectoplasmic beams. Inspired by his hero Charlie Chaplin, Gondry here tries to marry “low-tech slapstick and high-concept social commentary.” Who needs big budgets? he seems to ask. But if Gondry believes he can reverse Hollywood’s reputation for excess, he’s fooling himself, said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. His shapeless film “feels as silly and undisciplined as the mini-movies cooked up by its hapless heroes.”