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?