Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Be Kind, Rewind

Review by Stuart Bland

Videotapes were one of the most tiresome formats of media I have ever come across. There were so many problems with them, be it the inability to skip through the video piracy ads at the start of the tape, the fact that there was never any space on the cassette for extras, the terrible wear-and-tear they suffered from, or just that they were just so damn cumbersome. And don’t get me started on the total number of hours I must have spent untangling the tape after getting it stuck in the player. They really were the dinosaurs of home cinema. However, I still find I have a fond recollection of them. Their low-tech, awkward style will always maintain a little space in my heart.  Despite the advancements of digital technology we face with Blu-Ray and the like, I will always rate the videotape as one of my favorite mediums.

The same can be said of Michel Gondry and his imaginative take on filmmaking. His own low-tech, fantastical visions, in a time when CGI removes the need for such flimsy set pieces, are a delight to behold and never fail to set my imagination free.

Now, to say that his latest concept for a movie is a little ridiculous would be an understatement. However, that is not to say it is not an inspired concept; in fact, I’m surprised that the premise had not been thought of before. But maybe only the mind of Michel Gondry could come up with such an outrageous idea for a narrative, and it seems his intention to allow his audience to become fully immersed in it with this playful and imaginative story. In fact, it sounds like some kind of Leslie Nielson spoof film fully equipped with evil city planners, chain store competition and the poor crumbling business facing extinction in a community that is crumbling around it. Yet, despite such an idea, it is rather charming and nostalgic.

Set in a run down area of Passaic, New Jersey, Jerry (Jack Black) is convinced that a nearby power plant is trying to melt his brain, so he enlists the help of his friend and video rental store worker, Mike (Mos Def), to help him out with his plan to sabotage it. After it backfires, and the entire collection of the video store is wiped of all its content, the two friends set about remaking VHS versions of their most popular titles in a vain attempt to save the store.

What follows is some of the most imaginative filmmaking I’ve had the fortune to see in years, and the Ghostbusters remake in particular is hilarious. The local residents also catch onto the concept, and their success slowly brings together the residents in the hope to save the store, as well as their community.

Combining the DIY style of the remakes with an ode to a community really fits with Gondry’s own lo tech visual style, and despite a lack of character development and substance to its story, Be Kind Rewind is a charming and imaginative treat, with some great visual gags along the way making it quite possibly his most entertaining movie yet.

Score: 3.5/5

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