Review: Be Kind Rewind C+

A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov

Auteur Michel Gondry’s follow-up to the strangely effective The Science of Sleep is the similarly well-meaning, but less enjoyable Be Kind Rewind. In it Elroy (Danny Glover), a video-store owner will go out of business because store employee Jerry’s (Jack Black) brain has become magnetized and has ruined all the films in the video store. To remedy this problem him and his friend Mike (Mos Def) are forced to re-enact movies using only themselves as actors. Gondry’s idea of humor is the two protagonists embarrassing themselves while trying to swede many different films, from Rush Hour 2 to 2001: A Space Odyssey and passing them off and renting them out to customers as the real thing. The concept is a novel one that garners a lot of interest, especially from the many various film titles and the frequently funny humor pulled-off by Black and Def. While Gondry has dealt in comedy before, the less said about Block Party, the better. But it is still frustrating to find him still struggling with the different tonal movements in cinema. Like Block Party, Be Kind Rewind is schizophrenic mess that expects the viewer to be able to digest everything thrown at him or her, but what Gondry needs to realize is that this prevents said viewer from actually enjoying what is on-screen. If Gondry wants his surely pain-staking craftsmanship in writing the screenplay and inserting all the different sub-plots and thematic elements, to be recognized, he should have used a set-up longer than 30 seconds for each plot development. The romance between Mike and Alma (Melonie Diaz) is a prime example of the way Gondry’s disheveled persona leaks onto the screen. This subplot contains painful dialogue and the romance is lost in all the confusion. But Gondry’s direction is unfocused throughout the running time. Near the end when he tries to unabashedly tug at the heartstrings, Gondry’s direction remains detached, as if he knows that this third act is so disconnected from the rest of the film in emotional scope it needs not be directed with more focus on characterizations. It is that sense of purposeful mediocrity that really prevents the film from being saved by its amusing recreation of RoboCop.

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