Thursday, February 14, 2008

Review: Be Kind Rewind

Michel Gondry is an extremely creative gent. Everything he has learned from his early years making music videos has carried on to his features and you can see it all throughout his films; it's amazingly inventive. Most of you will probably remember him most from ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Or if you were like some people, you loved his and Charlie Kaufman's script and thought the film just directed itself. After that, his next big feature was THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. The strange thing about that film was that when I was watching it in theaters, I almost felt taken advantage of. ETERNAL SUNSHINE had spoiled me so much and for that reason was expecting a similar love for SLEEP which was the wrong thing to expect. I've since made my peace with SLEEP and love it for what it is.
BE KIND REWIND. What a blast it would be to be on set with your buddies shooting intentionally bad renditions of some Hollywood's classics. BE KIND tells the story of two friends, Jerry and Mike, who must remake films by themselves to replace the real ones in their video rental store due to the tapes being accidentally erased. Of course, the story is a bit more complicated than that. Mr. Fletcher played by Danny Glover, the owner of the video store, who must find a way to keep his building from being demolished. Right off of the bat, a few things that I didn't like was the fact that Mos Def plays kind of a doof when he should've been playing the smart friend and Jack Black playing the dumb. And Michel Gondry, where was he? I felt like I only saw his hand for about 20 minutes of the film. Unlike SLEEP and ETERNAL SUNSHINE where every other scene was some extravegant set-up, here, it seems like he shot the standard wide angle, brought it in for a close up, and cut to a profile. I've always loved his DIY effects which he has throughout the film but not as much as I craved. THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP I think was more a Gondry film because of those effects, but here Gondry takes an extra bit of time to bring structure to his story and screenplay.
The Gondry bits in the film though are worth it. There's a film when Jerry and Mike must sabotage an electrical plant and wear special camouflaged jumpsuits which don't seem to have any specific pattern to them. Though, when they are breaking into the plant, coppers show up and Jerry and Mike must freeze where they are (one up against the fence and the other on a ladder) and they completely blend it, it's hilarious. There are a few things that Gondry forgets or just decides to not elaborate on like certain love interests and side characters which I wish there were more story about. And to be honest, I didn't feel the impact of this community that I should've felt by the end of the film.
Besides the shortcomings, I haven't seen a film quite like this in a while. I must recommend an effort like this because we most likely won't see a film like BE KIND REWIND for some time. And although I don't give star rating, for the comedy it is, I would award this film 7 out of 9 stars.

Is it just me or...does ETERNAL SUNSHINE just never get old? It makes me feel crappy, but in a good way.