Be Kind Rewind (3 stars)

Be Kind Rewind

(12A) 100min


Michel Gondry’s freewheeling satire on copyright law features a frustrated filmmaker Mike (Mos Def), who works in a VHS-only video store in an apartment block due for demolition. When his dad (Danny Glover) is out of town finding out about the potentialities of the new-fangled DVD format, Mike unwisely allows his pal Jerry (Jack Black) into the store, setting in motion an accident that erases every tape in the shop. Mike and Jerry attempt to cover-up this mishap by creating their own versions of well-known films, a lunatic project which wins them the admiration and support of their neighbourhood, until nasty old Hollywood copyright law, in the form of a ball-breaking exec (Sigourney Weaver) turns up with a steamroller to destroy their precious work, and the shop itself.

Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and last year’s equally idiosyncratic, introspective and charming The Science of Sleep, Gondry’s fourth feature has a great, daft jumping-off point – that films are as much the property of the audience as the filmmakers, and that apeing big movies should be encouraged; it is, after all, the way in which most aspiring filmmakers learn their craft. Gondry has coined the word ‘sueding’ to describe the bootlegging process, and Be Kind Rewind features a number of classics rendered in Gondry’s home-made style, from Ghostbusters to Robocop.

Yet, Gondry’s own film falls well short of delivering on its radical premise. While Def has never been more likeable than the agreeably put upon Mike, and Melonie Diaz (Lords of Dogtown, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) offers terrific comic support as a starstruck laundrywoman, Black tries embarrassingly hard for laughs, and the starry supporting cast (Weaver, Glover, Mia Farrow) never seem to be in on the joke. And although the Capra-esque notion of a community drawn together by their love of cinema is an attractive one, Gondry’s consideration and execution of the central narrative is as slipshod and carelessly assembled as the ‘sueded’ films themselves. Gondry’s ideas are always original and there’s moments of magic here, but ultimately Be Kind Rewind is a collection of cool ideas in search of a movie.

General release from Fri 15 Feb.

Be Kind Rewind

  • 3 stars
  • 2008
  • US
  • 1h 40min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Michel Gondry
  • Written by: Michel Gondry
  • Cast: Jack Black, Mos Def, Melonie Diaz, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow

Mike (Def) works in a video store where his pal Jerry (Black) accidentally erases every tape. They attempt to cover-up this mishap by creating their own versions of well-known films, winning them the admiration of their neighbourhood and the wrath of Hollywood copyright law. Gondry's ideas are always original and there…