Be Kind Rewind – A Film Review

Writer/Director Michel Gondry wrote/directed one of my newer favourite films. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’.

If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

Whether your penchant is for science fiction, romantic comedy or quirky independent movies, ‘Sunshine…’ should meet all your needs – it did for me. Oh, and don’t be put off by the fact that Jim Carey is in it, if you’re not a Jim Carey fan. He does quite well here.

So… when me and my young men saw a trailer for Gondry’s latest film ‘Be Kind Rewind’, I was quite excited. Interestingly enough, so were they (the kids, that it).

The trailer was run before a kid’s movie and it had loads of things in it to appeal to that audience. So much so that my guys ran off to see it when it hit the cinema. They returned a little bemused. I didn’t get to see it myself.

I next came across it on the flight back from Florida a few weeks ago. It came on the little screens at about 2.00am/9.00pm depending on what zone we were over at the time. I watched a little then fell asleep. It looked just okay – I don’t engage much with movies on planes.

Then, the other evening, my eldest son was going on a birthday party sleepover which left me and the seven year old to our own devices (usually blogging and Lego respectively). This time however the little seven year old (four seasons in one day) announced he wanted to watch a DVD with his old dad. When I got home I found he had chosen ‘Be Kind Rewind’ (he slept through it on the plane and didn’t know it had been on.)

So we watched it, me and him.

‘Be Kind Rewind’ has a fun premise. While left alone to look after the video store where he works, Mos Def’s friend Jack Black erases all the tapes with his electrically-magnetised head. To keep one important-but-eccentric customer happy, they make their own version of ‘Ghostbusters’ using an old video camera and some imaginative props. Finding their work to be in demand, they move on to remake other well known movies in their own peculiar way.

The trailer was appealing to kids because it made great play of the various films that the renegade auteurs produce. That’s why my little man liked it and that’s why he seemed to really enjoy it in our DVD viewing.

But it isn’t really a kid’s movie. It’s not unsuitable or anything, it’s just not really made for them.

What it is, in fact, is a surprisingly elegiac film about the demise of small local communities. It is a nostalgic love song to the neighbourhoods of old where everybody knew everybody and it was okay to be a bit mad and even a bit aggressive so long as you played your part.

I feel the film is striving to celebrate something which never actually existed in the first place but which rather has been created through glancing back through rose coloured spectacles.

It’s not an entirely successful movie. It seems to try too hard to be quirky and the parade of oddball characters gets a little wearing at times.

Also Jack Black seems oddly out of place. It’s almost as if a real –life-celebrity showed up on your own street and tried to blend in. He doesn't help by phoning in another ‘School of Rock’ performance which crowds the more subtle work of the supporting cast. This is a shame because I find Jack to be both talented and very funny – he just seemed to be too big a face for this particular frame.

The movies which the guys make are great. My favourite moment is on their version of ‘Boyz in the Hood’ where a large pizza is put to wonderfully effective use.

When this film was over I found that I had enjoyed it very much. I thought the supporting cast were charming, particularly Melonie Diaz. Danny Glover proves that a famous face can keep his head tucked in with the ensemble when the need arises and Mia Farrow was sweet – even the local hoodlums were sweet.

After a while, I found I could pick some holes in it (see above) but, while it was there, it worked well enough for me.

Isn’t that all we should expect from a film sometimes?


Matthew S. Urdan said...

"I found I could pick some holes in it but it worked well enough for me."
--Ken Armstrong

Two words in response: Mamma Mia!

Anyway, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mine is in my Top 10 List of Favorite Movies of all time. It is brilliant, poetic, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. Kate Winslet is the most gifted actress of her generation. She has been robbed multiple times by Oscar Voters.

Anyway, nice recommendation...I'll seek it out.

Fiendish said...

Agreed on the "Eternal Sunshine" love-in here. Great film.

As for "Be Kind Rewind," it still sounds sweet to me. I like oddball. I like quirky. I saw Jack Black's latest film "Kung Fu Panda" in the cinema a couple of days ago: it has seriously funny moments and a great cast, but it's pretty forgettable I think.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Ken, thanks for sharing your insights on this movie. I want to watch now "...Spotless Mind" because of your input.

All the best and happy blogging.

CelloBella said...

Well I like a post that I learn something from and here I learned two things - that Be Kind Rewind is an okay movie that you enjoyed - and what the word elegiac means... yes I had to look it up.

Jim Murdoch said...

This is not one that was screaming out, "See me, Jim, see me now," and it was Jack Black that put me off but, if it gets The Ken Armstrong Seal of Approval then I'm willing to be persuaded but I'm falling behind on my movies so it'll have to wait. I still have films we got at Xmas we've not watched yet.

I did go and see The Dark Knight last week and I'd be curious to hear your take on that when you get round to it.

Rachel Fox said...

We saw this 'Rewind' film a couple of weeks ago when we had teenagers staying. It should have been good...but it didn't quite come together and I think a lot of that was the Jack Black question. A lot of people would see the film because of him but he did spoil it somehow (and I quite like him). It was a shame because the other actors were all really good...Black just seemed to be in another film...or a parallel universe or something.

I wanted it to have more of the films they made in it...but I think you can go and see them on a website somewhere. Have you been to look?

Ken Armstrong said...

Great, Let the ESOTSM Love Fest begin!! :)

Imagine if Kate Winslet had been in Mamma Mia!, Matt, how towards the front of the queue would you have been??

Jack *is* funny, Fiendish, he's dead funny in this one too, he just doesn't quite... fit.

Jena: I believe you will very much like 'Eternal Sunshine'. I do.

Cellobella: Keeping honesty alive on the internet. Actually I think I overuse and misuse this word simply because I hadn't heard it either until I read a review of 'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid'. I had to run off and get a dictionary too!! :)

Dying to see 'Dark Knight', Jim but my youngest is too young for it so I will have to sneak away to it at some point.

Hi Rachel: I noted in the end credits (like you, I read them, remember?) that there was a website with 'Sweded' movies on it. The best I could find is the 'Be Kind Rewind' section of YouTube but most of the bits there are short trailers for the movie.

The 'Robocop' one is pretty good though. Plus there's a funny 'Die Hard' one made by some gifted amateurs.

Anonymous said...

I'm also on board with Eternal Sunshine being one of my favorite movies. My husband and I rented Be Kind, Rewind, last week. My husband didn't like it at all. I thought it did get better as it went on, but I didn't love it. It was worth renting but I don't know if I'd recommend it.

Dave King said...

Yup, that sounds about right for me!

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Ken, while I wish Kate Winslet had been in Mamma Mia!, it really didn't make a difference as to how fast I would have lined up for it. The attraction for me first and foremost is the ABBA music. If I wasn't an ABBA fan, I wouldn't be as crazy about the movie as I am. But it is STILL laugh out loud fun.

That being said, I really expected after Meryl Streep had signed on board the rest of the cast would have fallen in line.

For Sophie and her friends or Meryl's friends, with or without age appropriate makeup, I would have loved to have seen Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Lane, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan (yes, she does have talent if she can get her life together) or any combination of the above. Although Christine Baranski was inspired in her role and Amanda Seyfried has a great voice, the rest of the actresses I mentioned have more talent and better singing voices.

For the men instead of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skaarsgard and Dominic Cooper, I would have preferred any combination of Patrick Wilson, Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor, Richard Gere, and Tim McGraw--all of whom can sing, and Tim McGraw has proven he can act. It's just that the first four have already appeared in Oscar-nominated musicals. That being said. Colin Firth was okay as a singer, and Dominc Cooper was a pleasant surprise for both his acting and his voice.

Cheers, Mate!

Disturbed Stranger said...

A lot of good movies out this sumer it's almost hard to keep up.
Dark Knight and Mama Mia are t the top ofmy list.
Bu I'll ty out Sunshine :) thank you for he recommendation!


hope said...

I like the Gerard Butler idea. Perhaps we should set up our own form of Central Casting...the ideas here are usually better than what gets produced in Hollywood.

Haven't seen Mama Mia yet but saw Pierce Brosnan being interviewed about his singing. He said he thought he was awful and when he practiced, his family would leave the room. He said they learned to stay and grimace silently. Seems he didn't get the message, huh? :)

Rachel Fox said...

Brosnan's singing was awful. He looked in pain. We felt his pain.
Saying that the two female leads were good and my Mum and daughter both LOVED the whole thing. Personally I was surprised to find it tackier than I expected (I was expecting very tacky but it was tacksville with tack on the side...and then some more tack).
Oh dear, Ken...this has turned into a Mamma Mia post on the sly!

Ken Armstrong said...

That's cool Rachel :)

I like to think of this place as a little Irish Pub (Sheeben) where I might start off a conversation but whichever way it veers off is quite okay with me.

I've looked at some more 'Sweded'movies on YouTube since and some of them are really quite funny.

BTW Fiendish: I saw 'Kung Fu Panda' myself yesterday and it was much better than I expected. Clever script and the fight scenes were very very good.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Wow, what a pleasant surprise. I get off the river and I find you smiling at me from my project wonderful ads. Thanks Mate! It's much appreciated. I'm honored that you enjoy my blog enough to help sponsor it.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

When we rented movies recently we got Be Kind on your recommendation. We'd hopped over it several times in the past, so with this viewing we were pleasantly surprised. Jack Black is like the obnoxious friend that never gets tired and is 10 time worse if you gave him beer. But on thos oft times where he isn't obnoxious, you know why you keep him around.