Be Kind Rewind (2008) Poster

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An Excellent Tribute To The Video Cassette Generation and Film-making
Chrysanthepop5 September 2008
'Be Kind Rewind' has already become one of my favourite films of the year. It's funny. It's charming. It's nostalgic. It's awkward. It's unique and it's moving. The entrance of DVDs to our lives have lead to the rapid extinction of video cassettes but does one remember the days of renting, collecting and watching those big tapes? Rewinding them and forwarding them? Something small but one that I find fascinating. While 'Be Kind Rewind' pays respect to that generation, it's also a wonderful tribute to film-making in general. All the classic movies and blockbusters this film refers to are some of the most memorable movies that played during the VHS days and, in a way, 'Be Kind Rewind' is a superb homage to those films. Just watch all the sweded 'refilming' of, for example, 'Driving Miss Daisy' with Danny Glover and Mia Farrow, 'Ghostbusters' and 'Rush Hour 2' with Jack Black and Mos Def...and so many more hilarious surprises. 'Be Kind Rewind' also explores what it is about cinema that fascinate the ordinary man.

Gondry's writing is just as great as his direction. Everything fits together excellently. The comedy and drama blend smoothly. Michel Gondry's screenplay is impeccable. The dialogues are laugh out loud and never out of place. The characters are genuinely heartwarming, goofy and lovable.

The performances are heartfelt and fantastic. A wacky Jack Black, an endearing Mia Farrow (who's a science fiction fan), a very impressive Mos Def (I was very impressed by his comic timing), a humbly naive Danny Glover, a vivacious Melonie Diaz, Sigourney Weaver as an inspector in charge (with a touch of comedy) and many more talented actors make a terrific ensemble.

Gondry has tackled a lot of themes like a strong sense of community, people's love for movies, people being accustomed to old technology (as a result to which they sometimes have difficulty moving on to more updated sources), reviving loved artists who have vanished into oblivion and the overall sense of doing something great together (like the last movie on Fat Waller's life). He tells the story skillfully. I liked that it ended on a bittersweet note but somewhat ambiguously. I was having so much fun and laughing out loud so many times that I didn't even care if it bothered other people.

Many people seem to have trashed this movie because it wasn't like 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind'. I'd like to tell those people to get over it. How can people even begin to compare too totally different films and then call one of them trash for not being like the other? I love both movies and to me, with 'Be Kind Rewind' Gondry proves to be a versatile director and my appreciation for him as a filmmaker has only increased.
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6/10
Fun film, though script is lacking
mrtimlarabee25 February 2008
Michel Gondry is a very talented filmmaker especially when it comes to visuals. His music videos and films go beyond simple video marvels into a world of simple visual trickery. This is something Gondry is very good at. Furthermore, he has a do it yourself mantra when it comes to filmaking. He's not into the marvels of CGI. He's more into what you can do without it.

But it takes a little more than visual trickery to make a film a success. Be Kind Rewind is a prime example. The film starts off well enough. Mos Def helps run a video store owned by Danny Glover's character. The store is probably one of the last remaining stores catering to VHS. Jack Black is Mos Def's left of center friend who works at an electrical plant. Through some plan to sabotage the plant, he becomes magnetic, erasing all the tapes.

Our heroes are forced to re-record the movies and do it through a process called "sweding," producing 10-15 minute versions of the film, using a wide array of do it yourself techniques that Gondry himself has utilized in his work. An example is a simple trick where filming through a fan makes the film look old. All of this is fun. The way the guys try to truncate the film's stories into a little time or their lack of knowledge regarding some films like Driving Miss Daisy. the crude effects are fun and are prime examples of why we love Michel Gondry.

The downside to the film is the script, penned by Gondry. Clearly, the film is built around the sweded films. But I was starting to think that watching the sweded films would've been more fun than watching Be Kind Rewind itself. Gondry never fully fleshes out his characters or resolves some of the subplots. The visuals are fun, but when Gondry's forced to wrap up the movie, it becomes a little sporadic and we start to realize the the film doesn't go much beyond its rich concept.

There is something great to take away from this film. And while I have some reservations about the film, my recommendation for the film is based on Gondry's filmaking vision. That is to say, there is clearly a joy of filmaking associated with Gondry that will have me continue to look forward to his work. If you're not sure what I mean, take a look at his promotional materials or at his other short films. The man loves filmaking and has fun with this movie. However, I'd recommend he build an alliance with some good screenwriters that would help his visions become fully realized, and not just good natured diversions, as this film is.
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8/10
Lovely, charming, original and not too sweet
shomethemovie22 February 2008
I missed this film at Sundance, caught it as soon as possible, and I wasn't disappointed. Despite being privy to the exhaustive fine-tuning of an indie film with an improvised feel, watching "Be Kind" I could absolutely believe it came together as quickly and spontaneously as the snippets of "sweded" films. This was part of its charm and I think Gondry's intention.

All the actors were engaging, and genuine heartfelt emotion - most definitely by the surprising, naturally pitch-perfect Mos Def - transcended the dialog, plot points and general wackiness.

The Fats Waller thread was just random enough and very skillfully and satisfyingly woven into the story from beginning to end. This and many other details - including touches like lovely Mia Farrow's curiosity about supernatural films and Sigourney Weaver's brief take-charge turn - convinced me that Gondry put quite a bit of thought and skill into perfecting the film's endearing awkwardness. It might not be to everybody's taste, but I think it was a great idea, executed and seasoned just right.
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8/10
Funny and endearing movie from Gondry
bard-2421 January 2008
The trailer really said it all about this film, and the film delivers everything it promises! What a great concept and how great a story we got from Gondry this time. Very accessible (unlike Science of Sleep) and entertaining from beginning to end. Jack Black and Mos Def play their parts well and the aforementioned is actually funny in this one, unlike a lot of his recent work. At the core of it all, Be Kind Rewind tells a great story about how you don't really need high-tech equipment to make movies. Who needs film-school when you've got your friends and a cheap camera?

I really enjoyed this film.
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The Purple Rose of Passaic
Benedict_Cumberbatch2 March 2008
Michel Gondry's new film is NO "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but it's better than "The Science of Sleep" and doesn't deserve the negative reviews it's been getting. Without Charlie Kaufman writing, Gondry's script might be a little less original, but his visual creativity (no one else knows how to make art out of cardboard boxes like him!) and passion for his story makes "Be Kind Rewind" some kind of special.

Mos Def and Jack Black work at Danny Glover's video store and, after Black gets "magnetized", he unintentionally turns every tape in the store blank. They have the brilliant idea of remaking the customers' favorite movies (from "Driving Miss Daisy" to "Last Tango in Paris"), and they suddenly become the local sensation. Some moments are very funny, others not so much, but this is not supposed to be a Farrelly Bros. kind of flick. With a simple but very compelling idea, Gondry created a story about people's love for movies, the sense of community, the compulsion for memories, the oblivion of old-time artists (the Fats Waller subplot) and old-fashioned technology (should Glover finally adhere to DVDs?). Gondry said in an interview: "I am not against modern things. I use technology, but what I am against is when the technology creates a system that makes you believe you need to use it". I couldn't agree more. By the end, even though not being a masterpiece like "Eternal Sunshine", "Be Kind Rewind" leaves you with the bittersweet feeling of other movies about our love for film-making, more notably "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (by the way, Mia Farrow plays the video store's most loyal customer) and "Cinema Paradiso". Definitely worth seeing. 8/10.
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10/10
Skillfully Directed, Decent Acting, and A lot of Fun
sUrf_wAX_AMeRica5522 February 2008
OK let me start off saying that i loved Eternal Sunshine and had pretty high hopes for this film. Michael Gondry did a more than exceptional job to capture the tone of this film which i'll describe as old-school, and scraggly. Jack Black once again played the same part he usually does just a funny weird dude, Mos Def did a real nice job a lot better than I expected after seeing him in Hitchikers Guide to The Galaxy. Danny Glover was really great. But the thing I loved about this film is that it was so different from the usual cliché comedy. The movie does have some flaws but what the heck, just go see it and relax. Its not supposed to be a Citezen Kane. Overall the film was real fun and actually a little touching, so go see it. I recommend it for sure. Real Fun!!
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7/10
Gondry lays out another visual feast
come2whereimfrom26 February 2008
This is the latest brainchild of Michel Gondry the one time video maker turned director of 'Eternal Sunshine..' and 'The Science of Sleep' and once again there's a visual feast on offer. On many levels this is just a clever comedy but on many others its much more than that, it is a homage to film-making as a whole, the death of artistry in the face of technology, the sense of community that cinemas can bring in a world where cinema is struggling against the internet and apathy. Jack Black and Mos Def play at odds friends who have an outlet running the local video store 'Be Kind Rewind', with the huge DVD emporium down the road the business is struggling and in danger of being pulled down to make way for condos. After a freak accident wipes all the tapes in the shop the pair decide to remake all the films rather than get caught and lose the shop and this then is where Gondry et al step up to the mark and let their imaginations run wild with hilarious consequences. The first film they make is 'Ghostbusters' and it sets the premises of what is to come as they do their own versions of 'Robocop, Lion King, Rush Hour 2 and Men in Black to name but a few. Black and Def play off each other really well but it's the ingenuity in the sets and lo-fi costumes that make all these little twenty minute 'Swedes' (The tapes are described as having come from Sweden as an excuse for higher rental fees and longer wait times) brilliantly funny. They are even available to watch online and you're also encouraged to make your own! The story is for want of a better word silly and my only criticism I have is that Gondry tends to be too whimsical and over idealistic at times but that said he is portraying a fantasy world where he can play like a child with bits of old rubbish and sticky back plastic and come up with stunning arty creations that shine on screen. With so much subject matter to work with Gondry picks films that he is sure most people will have seen, although I hadn't seen 'Rush Hour 2' and so struggled to find all of that section funny, so on the off chance you haven't seen any of the films being Sweded you may wonder what the hell is going on. Be Kind.. is not a new story or even a new idea but it has new things to say about the state of the industry, copyright law and ownership that hide subtly below the comedy and it is so full of visual ideas it's a film you could quite easily watch again. Not as dark as 'Eternal Sunshine' and slightly better than 'Science of Sleep' Gondry is proving he can do aesthetically great lo-fi films without the lure of CGI or the Hollywood big budget. Like the war between VHS tapes and DVDs Gondry is taking on the big boys and coming out relatively unscathed.
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8/10
Pleasant, Feel-Good Flick
ccthemovieman-120 April 2009
This is a silly but harmless fun piece of fluff, guaranteed to put some smiles on your face and give you somewhat of a feel-good feeling when it's over. I'm sure that was the intent, and very little more. It wasn't made to astound anyone or provide huge laughs. Yet, it has a lot of charm and subtle humor.

It's a ludicrous story, so you just can't take anything seriously. The premise is unique: two guys converting a dying video rental store into a success by taking blank tapes of famous movies and making their own 20-minute versions! The new "movies" are so bad, they're good and the neighborhood starts making requests and renting the new "sweded" movies like hotcakes. Goofy? Sure. Tons of plot holes? You bet......but a nice movie.

The more films you know, beginning with "Ghostbusters," the more you'll enjoy this as the guys make these cheap knock-offs on budgets of about a hundred bucks! In addition, Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover and Mia Farrow were all fun to watch.

It's no award-winner, but you could do a lot worse.
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7/10
Black and Def are excellent, but the rest of the film is just disappointing
DonFishies26 February 2008
Just reading a brief synopsis got me fairly hyped for Be Kind Rewind. The film was written and directed by Michel Gondry, who directed my favourite movie in the last five years, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so it was a no-brainer that this would be a movie I would want to see. But unfortunately, the idea seemed to be a whole lot better than the final product.

Mike (Mos Def) works at an aging video rental story in New Jersey run by Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). Despite the advent of DVD, the store only carries VHS tapes, and rents them to local customers at a fee far cheaper than the usual rental store. The store is apparently a landmark, so Mr. Fletcher does not want to give into local developers looking to turn the block into a nice piece of real estate. He leaves Mike in charge for a few days, but leaves specific instructions for him to not his friend Jerry (Jack Black) into the store. He does, and after a rather amusing accident, Jerry manages to erase all of the tapes in the store. To help cover this up, Mike and Jerry begin to film their own versions of the films.

It sounds creative on paper, but Be Kind Rewind is too muddled in subplots to really take advantage of its outrageous idea. The entire landmark dispute becomes rather boring and annoying right after it is mentioned, and the frequent mention of jazz musician Fats Waller loses its sentimental and nostalgic touch far too early on in the film. It just lacks the focus of Eternal Sunshine, and lacks the daring scope of The Science of Sleep, another film by Gondry. While Sleep was not all that great either, it seems to have had a much better grip on the point of the movie than Rewind does. It mopes around far too much, and I found myself more bored than I ever thought I would be watching it. I wanted to be interested, but the film did not make for many interesting moments. It has a sense of purpose and clearly knows what it wants to accomplish, but allowing it to seems to be an issue the film can never overcome.

One of these reasons may be the lack of depth in the characters. We learn very little about Mike or Jerry, and their pasts and motivations seem to never come up. We just know the basics, and that seems to be enough. Ditto for Mr. Fletcher, the frequent customer Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) and Alma (Melonie Diaz), who seems to get thrown into the mix rather randomly half way through the film, and never seems to fully materialize as anything other than being a female in a primarily male dominated main cast. Gondry clearly has a point for these characters to be here interacting (and a couple of curious supporting characters like Irv Gooch's Wilson, who lend the film a lot of its laughs), but he does not seem to want to make them be anything more than near one-dimensional cut-outs. I do not want to make them seem as simplistic as that, but more often than not, I really found myself not seeing anything other than that.

When the film actually gets to its key drawing point, the re-filming of the VHS movies (or sweding as the film refers to it as), it does bring in a lot of that creative depth Gondry is known for. Using many different angles and stylistic devices, Gondry remakes specific scenes out of these movies with ease, and brings a lot of humour to them as well. Watching Def and Black redo Ghostbusters is absolutely hysterical, as is their redoing of Driving Miss Daisy, King Kong, We Were Kings and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But unfortunately, these scenes are really short and sweet, and many of them are never lingered on. Frequently, they are only mere seconds long before the next sweded movie scene comes in. At one point, there is just a scrolling list of movies that are being redone, but barely any are shown on screen. It is a little disappointing, but I did really like the footage that is shown.

While the film's storyline is a little winded, and the character development is a little off, the actors themselves do really well.

Def continues to impress, and helps carry this film from beginning to end. I am never really impressed with his work, but he seems to have a knack for making his characters enjoyable and very human in their design. He just seems to have that natural acting talent that every young actor tries to have, but never can truly create for themselves. Even in its most boring sections, Def delivers a great performance that is insightful and more introspective of what the film could have been had Gondry put more effort into it.

The same goes for Black, who continues to redefine himself as an actor. On one hand, he does his usual screwball schtick to its finest degree, and gets plenty of laughs for it. But on the other, he really develops his dramatic side, one that is seen only in the likes of King Kong (where his performance is not nearly as well liked as I think it is) and pretentious fare like Margot at the Wedding (which I doubt many people will ever attempt to see). It is a fine balance, and Black walks it perfectly throughout the film, and gives a solid performance for one of the film's most undefined characters. Kudos to him for really making something of it.

While the rest of the supporting cast does fairly well for themselves, none ever match the charisma or the chemistry that Def and Black share. And in a film that is disappointing already, that makes it all the more worse.

7/10.
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7/10
Funny, heartwarming, light but clever DIY comedy
pbholmen5 November 2008
Why not more stars?

I gave this comedy 9 stars because I wholeheartedly believe it deserves it. I pondered on whether I should give it a ten. What puzzles me, though, is that it didn't get more stars, and why there are so many negative reviews on this site (though most are positive). I have a feeling it may be because many of those who gave it negative reviews did not get what they expected. Either because Gondry reached the wrong audience, or the reviewers are comparing it to predefined templates it does not, and should not try to fit into. In other words, they do not really SEE the movie, and complain about "flaws" that could have been relevant if the movie was a completely different one.

Most of the negative reviewers, even many of the positive ones, compares it unfavourably to another Gondry movie, "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind". I saw it got an amazing reviews on IMDb and gave it a shot. I thought it sucked, the story/casting was that of a standard Hollywood romantic-comedy-drama, though the visual part was inspiring and creative. What this means is just that Eternal sunshine and Be Kind Rewind are two very different kinds of movies, probably suited for different kinds of audiences too - though Be Kind... is very accessible and probably will amuse and entertain viewers from most camps.

Therefore, let's look at what the movie will NOT give you:

* Strong, character-driven, tear dropping interpersonal drama, with Hollywood's traditional dose of love and passion, of the kind that Eternal sunshine was.

* Wacky, lighthearted brainless humour like School of Rock.

Some of the reviewers complain about lack of character depth. Perhaps this mantra that all- movies-must-have-character-depth has something to do with the extreme focus on the individual that we have in the western world, and USA especially. The movie is not about individuals or characters, so don't deride it for that. What the movie is about, I'll get back to.

Other negative reviewers complain that it's not quite like "School of Rock". They probably saw Jack Black on the cover and expected something like it. Apart from the ultra-light wacky humour of the opening, this movie is not like that.

---

So what does the movie HAVE?

It is a lightheaded comedy about serious things like poverty, capitalism, staying together, how people use art and history to construct their collective identities, and above all, how the perfectionism and glitzy effects of modern film-making takes the joy and creativity away from the people and makes us passive consumers. It's about taking the joy and power of creativity back to the people, and the communities where it belongs. A bit like the punk revolution in the music scene brought tons of kids out in the garage to start their own bands, just far more inclusive and accessible.

But here's the GREAT part: The movie doesn't TRY so hard to be smart, political etc... Don't expect high- brow humour because you won't get it here! It is all packed into a light comedy frame, and almost exclusively looks at the bright side of life, with a heartwarming belief in the good of people and the strength of people staying together. It's hilarious, but slightly cultish, those in love of cult movies and seeking and alternative to a Hollywood machine drenched in dollars will absolutely love it. Others will have a great time too.

Watch it. But watch it for what it is, not for what it's not.
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1/10
Are you kidding?
scream186318 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand how this movie is getting all these good reviews saying how "charming" and "intellectual" it is. This was probably the worst movie I've seen in my life.

This movie was so poorly written, acted, and directed that it made me sick. The plot is so forced and dull that the audience doesn't care. How cliché is the fact that they need to save the old building? And the whole paranoid eccentric Jack Black character is so overdone. The dialogue felt like bad improv (did they even have a script?). The first 30 mins dragged on like nails on a chalkboard.

I love a good stupid Jack Black movie as much as the next guy (loved Nacho Libre), but this movie is so ridiculously stupid that I think I lost brain cells. The fact that Fatts Waller actually wasn't born in that building but then they decide that they can make up their own story and completely fabricate the past because Mia Farrow says "hey, our past is ours so it can be whatever we want". WHAT IS THAT? What kind of message is that?? As for the performances, I can't say there was anyone who stood out. Jack Black was playing typical Jack Black, Mos Def was bland, Danny Glover was ehhh, Mia Farrow was so unlikable and stock, and that Melonie Diaz made me want to stab out my eyes. I've never seen such a poor performance before. All her lines seemed like she didn't know what she was saying and was just ad libbing. I've never wanted to punch an actor for their work like I want to punch her.

The only good part of this movie was the Ghostbusters homage, which wasn't funny because we'd already seen it in the previews a million times.

This movie is a disgrace to cinema.
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7/10
Charming, intertextual tribute to the cinematic arts
pyrocitor2 March 2008
Considering the vast array of films whose subject matter introspectively deal with the nature of their medium in itself, it should come as no real surprise that few films paying tribute to the film industry itself boast more than a smile or two in terms of quality. After all, how could such self-serving Hollywood love letters come across as anything more than pretentious and self-congratulatory? It would seem eclectic director Michel Gondry has found the answer, by crafting a film with charm, but not Hollywood glitz, with humour but not generic sight gags, and with heart, but no mainstream sap - Be Kind Rewind is the end result, and a truly laudable feat as consequence.

If taken at face value, Be Kind Rewind may appear simplistic to the point of appearing patronizing at times, but Gondry is too shrewd to operate on directorial autopilot, and instead allows the form and cinematics of his own feature to mimic the unassuming homemade feel of his protagonists' shorts. Indeed, upon closer examination there is much to appreciate, as the structure of the film itself can be taken as allegorical for the development of the film industry itself and its ups and downs: a couple of men fooling around with cameras with no real idea what they were doing impulsively deciding to make movies, which steadily become more streamlined and mass produced (a montage sequence joyfully alludes to the days of "assembly line" Hollywood studio production) as they increasingly become less about art and more about making money. The film also makes witty references to the scare of video pirating in today's culture as well as an examination of the changing home viewing technologies, and the inevitable transition from more nostalgic days of video cassettes to DVDs. But Gondry's film also celebrates the enormous cultural significance of film, and glimpses at the joy of producing them and the heart-warming reaction of viewer enjoyment. Quite simply, Be Kind Rewind can be taken in a nutshell as a movie about loving the movies, which, although potentially coming across as too schmaltzy for some, is surprisingly touching as opposed to dissolving in a mess of Hollywood glitz.

Although the film is without question not without its faults, they scarcely detract from a film so unpretentiously touching and charming. Yes there are certain prominent lapses of credulity, logic, and even some paltry special effects (whether intentionally so or not, they do stand out). Yes some parts do undeniably drag or appear to be slightly off track, and the script carries the "improvised low budget feel" a bit too far in certain segments. But such concerns are easily forgiven when the final product is so earnestly enjoyable, and the "remake" sequences (as Black and Def lampoon such films as Ghostbusters, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Boyz 'n the Hood and Rush Hour 2) are comedic gold, and feel disappointingly rushed, considering their being the primary draw of the film. Similarly, the film's genuinely moving finale is a triumph - one feels transported to the earliest days of audiences screening silent films in a flickering theater with only a whimsical solo piano accompanying, and it hard to resist giving in to the sweeping feeling of genuine nostalgia and heart rather than typical Hollywood tear-jerking. And perhaps this exemplifies the film in itself: one gets the feeling the film could have reached and easily succeeded loftier or more profound aims, but ultimately the film doesn't pretend to be anything but what it is: a celebration of the art of creation and a parable for the love of film-making and its cultural significance.

Gondry's cast similarly light up the screen with enough infectious enthusiasm and good natured quirkiness to easily sell an occasionally rocky concept. The boundless charisma of Jack Black is put to perfect use as the irrepressible Jerry, taking a bumbling, attention seeking anarchistic character and still effortlessly capturing the hearts of his audience. Mos Def's offbeat comedic talents also perfectly compliment the film's quirky tone, and while undeniably funny, Def is given a chance to shine dramatically in several understated emotional scenes, and he rises to the challenge. Backing up the two charismatic leads, Danny Glover brings class and authority to the role of the gruff video store owner Mr. Fletcher, and Mia Farrow brings dignity and offbeat comedy simultaneously as an eccentric video rental patron. Melonie Diaz makes a lovably bizarre addition to the inspired pairing of Black and Def as an aspiring actress roped into the duo's movie-making frenzy, and a delightful cameo from Sigourney Weaver is priceless, especially considering the earlier Ghostbusters spoof.

For whatever faults or shortcomings, Gondry's film boasts such low key, unassuming heart and charm that it is almost impossible to dislike. While not as overall funny as one might hope for, it is exceptionally hard to resist a smile creeping onto one's face throughout, and the film proves surprisingly moving, despite the noticeable lack of Hollywood emotional showiness. Be Kind Rewind is somewhat of an anomaly in its unpretentious refusal to be anything apart from what it intended to be - a movie about celebrating the joys of making and experiencing movies it hard to resist, and Gondry's film is just cute and unassuming enough to pull it off with considerable skill.

-7/10
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1/10
Interesting Ideas... Dull Screenplay
iamthebeatles4 July 2008
I respect Michel Gondry's work in every aspect of the word, whether his innovativeness in music video making or his film work. He has definitely a unique style, some whiz, excellent film techniques, and a generally good sense of humor. However, Be Kind Rewind, which I have been waiting to see for some time... was a huge disappointment. And I don't mean to be harsh... but the film is really badly written. Yes, it has good ideas, but it has no believability of character... and it's extremely dull. That film should have been co-written with someone like Charlie Kaufman per se.

I don't recommend Be Kind Rewind. It's hardly funny. And it's not worth watching. Yes, it has cute ideas, but I prefer watching plot less art films than this trying-to-be-commercial unentertaining flop.
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9/10
Gondry's film is endearing homage, to the movies themselves and to an outlook not unlike Capra
Quinoa198429 February 2008
Michel Gondry has an extremely cool, funny, and intriguing new film with Be Kind Rewind, as it finds him growing even more emotionally as an artist while taking a very slight step back with style (though not that it's a bad thing). It's rightfully called by Ebert "WHIMSICAL (all in caps)", but in his own right Gondry has made what could possibly be his closest yet (or maybe ever) to making a kind of Cinema Paradiso mixed with something out of It's a Wonderful Life. It's a crazy fable that only Gondry could do.

It goes without saying that one of the main draws of the success of the piece are the movie 'parodies' as they end up being almost by default. Mike (Mos Def, with a full-on lackadaisical kind of voice, not a strong performance by any measure but cool and relaxed) works at a video store in Pasaic, NJ, with his friend Jerry (Jack Black who is, almost by default, Jack Black as we know him in comedies) is a kooky, nagging dude who lives in a trailer by a power plant. Despite the best efforts of Mike's boss/mentor/father figure Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) while he's out of town, Jerry gets into the store after getting an astounding amount of electricity in his system. He magnetizes (i.e. erases) all the videotapes he touches, which is very quickly all, and there's only one answer with no access to videos and an inability to switch to DVD right away: make the damn movies as they were!

But better! At least in the eye of the beholder. It's a marvel at times to see how much invention there is in Gondry stripping everything down to a level of film-making that reminds one of what it's like to pick up a camera for the first time. Aspiring filmmakers alike can attest to it: the first time you get a camera and try for something you go for what you know, and Gondry charmingly, uproariously most times captures that feeling, going between Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, The Lion King, Driving Ms. Daisy, RoboCop, and a whole host of titles (as was also my friend's favorite, seeing Gummo on the list of "Sweded" titles was a gas). Seeing this process happen with the Be Kind Rewind store is like seeing what many conventional comedies go for, the big up of success at something of this variety (can't compare it right now, but you know where it's from going all the way back to comedies of the 40s) , but done with the right pathos.

Gondry loves this sect of marginalized folk in this run-down area of Passaic right off to the side of Route 80- and area some of us New Jersians pass by every day without a second thought- as he previously revealed, not without some coincidence in his documentary Block Party, of the natural thrill that comes with people getting on camera. It goes without saying some of them aren't the best of actors (not that Def and Black don't have their faults at times too), but Gondry isn't one to back off of that chance, to back up his snappy script with a multitude of faces we haven't seen, plus a couple of surprises with Mia Farrow as the local old-lady-quasi-dingbat, and Sigourney Weaver (a brilliant in-joke to the Be Kind's first remake) as a cold copyright agent.

Which brings me to what the most enchanting aspect- yes, enchanting a word to use here- of the film, which is that while it's often very, very funny in the places to be expected, it's also got real empathy for its characters, and for the society painted here. Going back to Capra, cause it's worth noting, Gondry isn't one to not recognize the forces at work in conglomerating (i.e. West Coast Video), gentrification (i.e. tearing down the square block to build a big apartment complex, sending them away to the projects), and the cynical attitude of the corporation towards the innocence of the Be Kind Rewind folk ("And we're the bad guys," Weaver's character comments to her other agents whilst all of the Sweded videos are destroyed).

But in digging into all of this, including an climax and just last act in general that inspires faith in these people, Gondry grows all the more closer to being a greater filmmaker than he's been before, almost in spite of the fact that he's shot a somewhat more conventional comedy than Eternal Sunshine or Science of Sleep. It's about nostalgia for an dying technology, to an extent, but it's moreover about the nature of the people who would still throw down the gauntlet for the craft itself. This is an amazing, muddy pup of a flick.
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1/10
the previews were the best part
Tek-Jansen25 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I always thought eternal sunshine was way overrated, yes I was pretty entertained by it but it was a little too uneven and relied too much on fantasy to make up for serious script problems. Then came science of sleep, an artsy fartsy wet dream for those people who think radiohead has taken music as a whole to a new level. once again, it had its moments but so uneven and the characters were just boring.

now we get be kind rewind. the most boring, unfunny comedy I've seen in a long time. I went into it hoping to see some great movie spoofs, not learn about fats waller. I'm pretty sure only about 5 things happened in the movie, the rest was just ad libbed nonsense that went nowhere. OK:

1. jack black gets electrocuted UPSIDE DOWN? in a power plant 2. He erases all of the tapes because of said electrocution 3. friend and him reshoot tapes to appease customers, they like it 4. but wait, for whatever reason they are going to tear down the building (because oh yeah its old and worthless) unless they come up with some large amount of money 5. make a biography about whatever danny glover thinks about fats waller, charge people to watch fake history???!!

THE END.
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3/10
Shockingly Terrible
actormichaelo23 March 2008
Me and my friend went to the movie's, too see the new Michel Gondry movie. I am a huge fan on Jack Black and love him in School of Rock, however this was not his best work.

Me and my friend had heard the movie was very average but however i was sure i would like it.

I was shocked and stunned at what i saw, the point of the movie started around 35 minutes into the movie, it was unfunny, bad script, bad acting on some parts (not Jack Black, Mos Def or Mia Farrow) the point of the movie was overlooked and people were getting restless.

People began leaving the movie after 40 minutes or so and at the hour mark I done the same.

After being shockingly disappointed, i proceeded to ask for my money back after i paid £5 for the ticket, the wouldn't let me have it back.

The film was shocking and I wouldn't advise anyone to go and see it.

The promos, FALSE ADVERTISING! Just Plain Bad!

Film is terrible!
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9/10
A salute to America's creative passion...
janyeap19 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Wow… another fun movie of Writer/Director Michel Gondry! It attempts to reach out with a very subtle message. Gondry is again calling the shots for his creatively alluring visual style, never to cease his manipulation of mise en scène! And I love it! Indeed, this film is inspiring for the creative minds of America! With the story's delightfully charming and fun characters, and with very memorable one-liners zinging away throughout the simple tale, Gondry brings the audience a sweet and warm-hearted fable to salute America's creative talents.

The charmingly comedic cast ensemble, Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Paul Dinello, etc., including Mia Farrow and Sigourney Weave, collaborate with Gondry very successfully to field up the loony razzmatazz about the inventive fun of "Sweding" films.

Boy, did I enjoy following Jerry's journey into his new career! Jack Black is such a natural comedian! Boy, did I have any doubt that Jerry and Mike would pull off their manipulation! Nope. And, you can bet that my heart warmed to the uncanny goodwill and appreciation, exhibited by those common-folks of their little community's heritage. Good or bad, the folks of Passaic are proud of their 'native' talents. And that's so emotionally touching! The story bubbles with so much creative hullabaloo, liv, and energized spirit. Hhhmh, the film even has Sigourney Weaver's Ms. Lawson – a spoil-sport villain out to make life miserable for all? Just to watch films, like Back to the Future, Robocop, Rush Hour 2, Driving Miss Daisy, King Kong, Ghostbusters and 2001: A Space Odyssey being revamped by goons for loons is worth paying the price of a regular tix to watch this film! Michel Gondry and his cast of actors are giving the audience a treasure trove of spontaneity, creativity, playfulness, fun, laughter and tears. Oh yes, their film does put a test to the audience's tear-ducts, especially toward the close of the film.

Gondry's film is bound to delight those with dreams of making movies. It's also a film that appreciates the passion of refreshingly new talents. But will it serve to remind film institutes, promoters, and sponsors not to neglect their objectives in inspiring and encouraging creative new talents? I should hope so. As Gondry's film does suggest, creative minds do inspire and spark off creative juices to flow in every walk of life! Yep, this is absolutely an uncanny and ingenious fable… presented in all good humor and in a pleasantly unique avant-guard dynamo-style to make it memorable. Call it a mock doc within a mock doc if you wish, but it sure will remind us that small-budgeted, homegrown indie films can sell just as well as big Hollywood blockbusters.
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1/10
Complete disappointment
charlirothwell12 July 2008
Me and a friend rented out this film having heard great reviews. We were highly disappointed when it turned out to be lacking in humour and plot.

The story line was unbelievable and not funny and it was hard to identify with any of the characters. The film seemed to stray between genres of comedy and drama but never settling on one. It seemed to want to appeal as a genuine homage to film making but the story was full of unrealistic turns and events that ruined its credibility. Having made ourselves sit through it, we were further confused by the abrupt ending that gave no real conclusion and added to sense of wasted time.

Such a shame for a cast that held so much promise.
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7/10
Fast forward through the beginning and you have a great movie here...
simonparker199020 February 2008
Remember the days when the VHS dominated the market, the days you had to sit for ages rewinding or fast forwarding the damned things just to find the moment in the film you wanted. I know it seems like a lifetime ago, DVD quickly saw an end to that tedious routine. However, there is still something nice about a VHS, I don't know what it is but it just feels a bit more homely. That's the way that Be Kind Rewind seems to have gone, sure it isn't as nice looking, it isn't as memorable, and hell it even gets a bit tedious after a while, but it has a nice feel to it. Be Kind Rewind in essence appears to be nothing more than a string of amateur movie clips strung together by a plot, that's what the trailers make it out to be. But when you watch the film and you peel back the surface you find something more, a good natured storyline that actually is genuinely heart warming. Unfortunately however the movie takes a while for an humour or heart warming to kick in. The film for at least twenty five minutes verges on boring. But once you get past the dull part, and the movie remakes kick in the movie just becomes hilarious, and when the movies true moral kicks in at the end, despite it at times feeling forced, the movie at least does seem to suck you in still. The performances are pretty top notch and the script is witty. Sure it is not even in the same league as Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the movie is well written and will leave you feeling that little bit warmer inside once you leave the cinema.

So let me get onto the performances. Jack Black is obviously the major star of the film, now I'll be honest I approached his performance with some caution. I admit that Jack Black is an incredible talent, School of Rock and to some extent even Tenacious D the movie confirmed this, nevertheless when given the wrong material he is pretty awful. Nacho Libre, one of the biggest disappointments in recent years, left me horrified that someone had made me dislike a Jack Black performance. And then at Christmas I had to endure The Holiday, the less said about that the better. Thankfully Black is at home in this movie, he has the opportunity to be completely manic, he does a classic Jackie Chan impersonation and he also has a genuine heart in the film. He also works superbly alongside Mos Def, who is admittedly quite dull at the start of the movie, but when he has some weight in the script he delivers a great performance. Danny Glover finally proved he could act in this movie, in recent films he has been on auto-pilot, but here he seems to like the movie he is in. Mia Farrow makes a welcome, if admittedly pointless appearance. And Sigourney Weaver pops along and almost steals the movie in way too brief screen time.

I suppose however that Be Kind Rewind's biggest selling point has to be the remakes of the movies. Well I was quite surprised not to see too much of them, in fact one of my biggest complaints is that we say way too little of them. The Ghostbusters sequence is a classic, in fact in years to come I'm sure I'll love that scene as much as I do today. The driving Miss Daisy scene is priceless, but apart those and the Rush Hour 2 scenes, we get brief glimpses at the other films. I'd have loved to see more on Men In Black, the Lord of the Rings remake that we see the case of, 2001 and all those others. They're the best bits of the film yet they flash past way too quickly. Matters are never helped that too much time is focused on the making of a Fats Waller movie, sure those scenes are extremely touching, but the characters waffle way too much about the man and you get sick and tired of it by the end. Thankfully the movie does have genuine heart, the final fifteen minutes just make you feel happy and make you smile. The ending is very abrupt, but the scenes proceeding it are pitch perfect.

Be Kind Rewind is a decent movie that could have been an all time classic, alas the movie just has too many mediocre moments for it to ever be something you can endlessly watch. The remake scenes are priceless and it is a nice movie to watch, but a very slow beginning and a lack of memorable moments make this something to rent or watch once.
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1/10
I laughed once... maybe twice... not worth 10 bucks
jeffroy421 March 2008
I'm not sure why this movie has such a high rating on IMDb... maybe Jack Black and his buddies have been on this site lately. Anyway... I'm usually a fan of Jack's comedy style. He is usually extremely animated and his movies are filled with parts where you just bust out laughing saying, "Did he really just do that?"... but this movie fell short. The beginning was quite dull.. not very funny at all. It was only towards the middle of the movie when things got a bit funny, but only a bit. The dialog was not snappy at all. I think the writers must have been depressed or something. Very bland. I went to the movie looking for a light hearted comedy that would make me laugh and out of the 2 hours of movie, maybe about 90 seconds of it hit my mark. The ending was the best part of the movie, but it was too little, too late. Pretty lame movie in my opinion. If you want a good laugh, go rent School of Rock, or Shallow Hal or something...
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9/10
An awesome homage to making movies!
This movie make a glance on our film-society of today. He hold up a mirror to us and take a look at what are the roots of film making. How is a modern video store appointed? In my country there are maybe 50% porn movies, 20% action or horror movies, 25% Mainstream and nearly 5% legendary movies. Exactly this makes the movie show me in his funny way. Jack Black and Mos Deaf as funny simple-minded human beings try to make their accident right and in that way exactly hit the mark. This movie on the one hand motivates to use your own creativity - going out and make your own films. On the other hand makes clear that video stores like "Be Kind Rewind" are still fighting against Goliaths, hopefully with a sling and as well with us who going to support such treasures like those video stores. After all this movie is some kind of tragicomedy, even if you must laugh nearly the whole movie.
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1/10
Not even worth bit torrenting
sams3711 July 2008
This film has three major flaws, two of them Jack Black, the other is Mos Def's strange mumbling performance. Black is under the impression that he is very naturally funny, his performance assumes that the audience will find all his funny faces and silly voices amusing which instead of rib licking all come across as rather desperate. Jack doesn't have a charisma of his contemporaries and this film like most of his recent attempts, is very painful to watch, however i am not sure anyone could have pulled a winning formula out of this cheap script. The jokes fall flat and really the only missing element of the film is tumbleweeds rolling behind Poor Jack as he jumps up and down pulling yet another funny face screaming "laugh at me, laugh at me please!"
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8/10
To all the films with heart, and soul…Be Kind Rewind
jaredmobarak29 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Thankfully, Michel Gondry has once again taken his warped mind and melded together a piece of work that is personal and touching, without ever going too far into sentimentality. For all of you who saw the trailer and think that either it will take a one-note joke and beat it to the ground or be out-loud funny at all turns, don't bother watching because it is neither. I only wish I could have told the four 16-year old girls in front of me who were constantly on their cell phones, talking, making a ruckus as they went to the bathroom halfway through, and at the end yelled out "finally." Maybe the mistake was bringing it to a Regal and not letting it lie in its rightful home of a Dipson. You will not get mainstream laughs or stellar acting; instead we are shown a whole lot of heart and compassion for the people you love, the town you call home, and the imagination and knowledge that you can make a difference, no matter how small. Be Kind Rewind is a feel-good film that wears its creativity and craft blatantly on the screen. Gondry tells the tale of two men hand-creating movies by molding his own, stamped throughout with his personal fingerprints blemishing each frame.

I could go the easy route and say that the acting was kind of atrocious, but I won't because I really feel the amateurish quality was deliberate. Between Mos Def, (whom I love as an actor), mumbling, Danny Glover sounding as though his teeth were falling out, and Mia Farrow acting so over the top happy with broad expressions running the gamut, the cast is as unpolished as the "sweded" films they are shooting. Something about that feel works perfectly, though, and I don't think the movie would have been as successful if they all were pristine. Each plays their part to perfection and even Jack Black reins it in to portray a fully fleshed character and not a caricature as he is used to. Sure you get his manic comedy at times, but just his reaction at the end proves he was into this film completely and was willing to do what was needed for it to succeed. All the supporting roles were great as well with brilliant turns from Melanie Diaz and Irv Gooch (as Wilson) along with Marcus Carl Franklin playing an actual boy, something that was a departure from his very adult portrayal of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There.

But why am I talking about the acting? That is the least of my memories from this film. Gondry is a true genius in the definition of the word. The way he creates set pieces and allows for each erased VHS to be recreated is astonishing. When we are shown a montage of the crew filming multiple stories at once, the true inventiveness comes in. Going from 2001 to Umbrellas of Chermbourg to Men In Black, we are given a brief glimpse of the setup that is slowly turned into the film. Watching a crank with numerous cars spinning while Mos Def and Black are upside in a car looks absolutely absurd until the title flashes on the bottom and you realize it is the tunnel scene of MIB, just an amazing transition. Every second is laced with creativity from a skewed camera angle showing Black slide down a stair banister to appear like a fire poll, the fake depth of field to show Black as King Kong grabbing Diaz, to the laughably perfect mat of a city laying on the ground and shot from above to make it look as though characters are falling to their death off a building. Gondry might have single-handedly created a phenomenon that will be mimicked and YouTubed in the very near future. Heck, he even "sweded" his own trailer to rake up some added press. "Sweded" of course being the term to describe the art of recreating movies to their personalized, condensed format. I'll buy the DVD just to see the full versions, as I am sure they will be included, (how could they not?).

There is an underlying story of course, a race against time to try and save the video store from demolition—complete with an FBI lawsuit of copyright infringement—but all that takes a very far backseat to the human story at the front. The way these films bring the rundown, low-income city together, as a community, is heart-warming and a big payoff for the film. Credit Gondry for knowing what he was doing too. He shows Ghostbusters being filmed, but then only snippets of the rest so as not to ruin the joke. When the group finally decides to shoot an original story, we are still intrigued by the workmanship that goes into the process because we have not yet been bored by it from before. And of course, he films the finale the only way he could have. As an audience, it really doesn't matter what the end product is; it's the reactions of those watching that counts. To see the laughs and the tears on the faces of all the people who helped create their masterpiece is the true endgame that I wanted to see. You won't experience a more charming and original film, with enough heart to warm those in it and those outside in the theatre watching, anytime soon.
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10/10
Another enjoyable and thought-provoking film by Jack Black
edward-grabczewski23 February 2008
Looking at the existing comments you might be forgiven for wondering why over 500 people have given this a 10 out of 10 rating. To date, none of those have commented on the movie apart from me.

For me, Jack Black has appeared in three films that have unexpectedly made me think: School of Rock, Shallow Hal and this one. All these films seem to have a genuine sense of fun, particularly where children are involved, yet have a deeper message that lingers as an uncomfortable question in the back of my mind long after the film has ended: School of Rock about the nature of teaching, Shallow Hal about our perception of beauty and Be Kind Rewind about communities and film-making. I have found no answers to any of the questions posed by these films.

I easily managed to suspend my disbelief for two hours and found this movie genuinely funny and touching all at the same time. As a moviemaker myself this film reminded me that great movies are made by people who love them (e.g. Somewhere in Time, The Sting) and they're made for the audience of that time and place. It's not about realism, it's about loving the story. This film reminded me that communities are broken up in the name of progress, which gives the film a rather melancholy feel towards the end. But most of all it reminded me of the fun we have in making short films and the excitement you feel when you see the product of your own efforts.

Great acting by all - without exception. And what a nice touch to rejuvenate the memory of Fats Waller.
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Frenched Swedes
tedg9 March 2008
French film-making has been bankrupt for decades.

Oh, we've had "Amelie," and that's great, but in general, the ideas of reflection and cinematic exposure in French hands have been about as successful as the architecture of the Pompidou Center is engaging. Even the art therein, as typified by Niki de Saint-Phalle, is wan.

But these ideas have always had promise, and combined with the American invention of noir have more or less become embedded in everyday film. There isn't a better example than Michel Gondry. He was an ordinary drummer in an ordinary band until making that band's videos. And then Bjork's. And then Kaufman films, and then an Oscar. Finally, perhaps the highest honor for a creative mind: to be named artist in residence at MIT.

Here is the product of that tenure.

Its a film with three distinct parts. These parts are not well integrated, I think by design, and that will allow newspaper and internet reviewers pretending to be critics to give it bad marks. And that will be too bad. In my city, this was showing in one theater, for one late showing per day.

The first part of the film is a rather conventional Jack Black-centric comedy. It involves his battle with the massive power plant next to the junkyard in which he lives. Its funny in what is already a conventional juvenile style. It however has one of the best sight gags in recent memory: Black shows up one day in camouflage to convince the Mos Def (even the name is a joke) character to participate in an assault on the plant. Later, he in (cameo as well) and Jack do climb the fence surrounding the plant. But they are interrupted by the cops and freeze, their cameo perfectly matching where they happen to be standing, complete with partial signage. That one joke is worth your six bucks.

The middle section has the two taping ad hoc versions of the movies in the store. Its a wholly different sort of humor, goofing on the folding mechanism I note so often in my comments. These are homemade movies within a homemade movie. Each follows Ted's law in being precisely as abstract (which in this case includes the offhand homemadeness) as the movie in which it exists. Some of this is really good, and to keep it funny, the pace increases phenomenally until it would take many viewings to get the jokes.

The final section is a third film, whose effectiveness depends on the first two. Its sweet, deep and very affecting. You will end up crying as I did. They are unable to continue making "Sweded" versions of movies because of the evil studios, who surely are moving to become as strong as possible in fighting imagination. So they make a "new" movie, a fiction about Fats Waller. You will have seen parts of this at the beginning of the film, and there's no mistake that this is the emotional center of the project — and why Danny Glover was required.

Its in the tradition of a Rooney-Garland "let's have a show" movie, involving the entire neighborhood. And it is as sweet and endearing as can be. Extremely post-racist and human, unashamedly using children where they mean something. And celebrating the sort of random "make up anything" fun that's at the soul of Waller's music. If you know Swedish films, even the term is a massive joke.

This is a gem. If you like film, and as a result are in danger of jaded watching, of analytical hell, this will help you escape. It could be one of the two best films you will see this year.

Oh, and after you see it. Not before, after, you really must see the trailer by Gondry where he "Swedes" his own film, replacing the Black and Def characters — in fact every character — with himself.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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