MONKEY REVIEW: Be Kind Rewind

June 23, 2008

bekindrewind“Our past belongs to us, we can change it if we want.”

Written and directed by Michel Gondry, Be Kind Rewind is an entertaining fable about movies and storytelling, in the guise of a screwball comedy. Be Kind Rewind revolves around a Passaic, New Jersey video store that still does VHS rentals, run out of a building on the verge of being condemned. When its owner (Danny Glover) goes out of town to attend a Fats Waller memorial, he leaves Mike (Mos Def), a young man he’s raised since he was a boy, in charge of his store. Things almost immediately go wrong when his best friend Jerry (Jack Black) has his head magnetized in a freak accident and manages to erase every tape in the video store. Mike’s solution? They’ll replace movies like Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2 with their own homemade versions of them, complete with their own on the fly and often wildly creative special effects. After stumbling around a bit for half an hour or so, Be Kind Rewind‘s central story takes hold and the rest of the movie is mostly a pleasure, and frequently hilarious. A good deal of the credit goes to the cast, in particular Mos Def, Jack Black and Melonie Diaz who give charming, subtle performances. There’s no reason why Mos Def shouldn’t become a huge movie star, based on his work in this movie, and other movies like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Woodsman. Mia Farrow also gives a lovely performance as a video store regular customer. The movie as a whole has some interesting and often profound things to say about the relationship between audiences and the movies they watch, and how history morphs into myth. Despite those serious undercurrents, Be Kind Rewind maintains a goofy, good natured surface right until its bittersweet final scenes. It’s certainly not a perfect film, but it’s just good and fun enough to merit a view.

MONKEY RATING: TWO MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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