Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Review: Be Kind Rewind

I had been anticipating this movie for a while. Months, actually. So to say that this is a bias-free review would be a lie.

I found myself (unexpectedly) with nothing to do last Friday, so after a long undeserved nap, my roommates and I drove up to the Jordan Commons theaters to see Michel Gondry's latest. I've mentioned him and this film a few times on here before. We got there too late to see the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, but I was still excited.

Be Kind Rewind centers around Mike (Mos Def), Jerry (Jack Black), and Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). Mr. Fletcher is the owner of a run-down, behind the times video store (the film's namesake) in the middle of Harlem. Supposedly, that's where Fats Waller was born, right in that store. Mike is the assistant at the shop to help the customers (all two of them). Jerry is...well...cracked. His conspiracy theories are more feuled by the "the power plant" he lives under in his decaying camper, though it looks more like a transformer station.

When Mr. Fletcher goes on a little investigation vacation to research what other video stores are doing to keep business afloat, Mike is left in charge. He does his best. Really, you can't blame the guy for what happens. But Jerry manages to erase every tape in the store when he accidentally becomes magnetized after an unsuccessful sabatoge on the mind-controlling power plant. Cracked, like I said.

When one of their (very few) customers wants to rent Ghost Busters, Mike desperately concocts a plan. She'd never seen Ghost Busters before. Heck, she may have never seen a science fiction movie before. So, they do what any self respecting video clerk would do. They decide to shoot the movie themselves with an old VHS camcorder and try to pass it off as the real deal.

Their work, in all it's amateurish grandeur, becomes wildly popular. Everybody wants to have their own version made of their favorite movie.

I came into the movie with high expectations, and was not disappointed at all. Other reviews will cite a number of shortcomings. I understand those problems, I saw them myself. I don't care, it was a great movie.

One thing you'll hear is the movie was too sentimental. It was very sentimental. But when did that ever hurt anybody? When so many sterile, hollow Wes Anderson films are seen as the pinacle of genius, I'm more than willing to forgive a movie that tries to get you to like the idiot characters. I was suckered in, and loved it all the way through. When they smiled, so did I. When they were heartbroken, so was I. What was the last Wes Anderson movie you saw where any of the caracters gave a real, big, genuine smile? For all the intellectual capacity of film, I think the greatest strength of the medium is emotional. There are few other things anywhere that can bring a group of strangers together and have them all walk away laughing, crying, joking like old friends, or in simple, complete, utter silence.

Be Kind Rewind made me laugh and love the characters, and I'm glad it did. In the words of one of Mike and Jerry's patrons, Cheers "to movies with heart, and soul". Even if the heart is bleeding a bit.

Another reason I loved it was how much the characters reminded me of...me. Okay, on the surface, we're pretty different. They were a couple nobody's from the inner city taking their time going nowhere in life. I've hardly ever seen any "inner city" and I'm at college in Utah. But when they grab a camera and run outside to shoot a stupid movie, any differences between us disappear. They immediately look a lot like me and my friends on the weekend. I love making dumb movies with my buddies, I've been doing it since high school. I love telling stories, even if my friends and I are the only ones who will enjoy it.

So for all it's "failings" it is a fun movie, which is just what it sets out to be. Watch it, even if you wait for the dollars, or even when it comes out on video. Then, if you feel so inspired, go out and shoot one of your own. Trust me, it's just as much fun as it looks.


Abby said...

i like me an earnest movie. good review.

D Smith said...

good review however, I'd suggest that you do a little search and replace, Mike for Jerry, and Jerry for Mike.

Austin said...

Noted and corrected. Thanks, Smith.

mdiller said...

Its a good thing you put a link on transformers. I thought you were talking about "real" transformers again.