Review: Be Kind Rewind

Mike and Jerry are best friends. Although Jerry is a bit odd with his seemingly overactive imagination, Mike is more grounded. Mike’s boss at the local video store, leaves him in charge with a warning, he asks Mike to not let his best buddy into the store for fear he may do some harm. But being that this is a fable, of course he is going to come in. And of course, by some strange turn of events, gets a massive upload of electricity while trying to sabotage a power plant. Once inside the store, thanks to his newly found electric spark, he demagnetizes all the video tapes leaving them blank. It is up to the two buddies to find away to keep the store running by making home made videos of classic films to keep the customers happy. Incredibly un-realistic? Yes, but that doesn’t make it bad.


BE KIND REWIND is all about nostalgia. It’s about the togetherness of a shared experience. Whether you are talking about a movie theatre or some other function, it is the idea of a group of people experiencing joy and happiness as a whole. At least that’s what I got from it. Writer/director Michel Gondry has created another unique and very charming fable. It centers around a very old school video store where the latest releases seem to be GHOSTBUSTERS or DRIVING MISS DAISY. The kindly store owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), seems reluctant to change while Mike (Mos Def), his employee, sometimes misses a paycheck or two. But we all know technology, it’s going to catch up with us sooner or later. Or will it? After all, this neighborhood video store also happens to be the birthplace of jazz legend Fats Waller. Both Mike and his best friend Jerry (Jack Black) even offer up a tribute across the street with a few cans of paint, much to the local police officers dismay.

But times they are a changing’ and Mr. Fletcher knows it. He decides to take a little vacation to spy on what is happening at the big time video stores and leaves his business in the capable hands of Mike. He does this with only one warning, don’t let Jerry in. His lack of trust for the man soon ends up warranted. With Fletcher being gone only a short time, Jerry manages to erase every tape in the store after losing a battle to the local power plant. Unbelievable? Yes, of course. But somehow it works. And after a long time customer Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) demands a copy of Ghostbusters, both Mike and Jerry figure out a way to give her a “working” copy of the film… they make one. This is a extremely far-fetched idea. Not only the reason Jerry gets magnetized, but the fact that through a process known as “Sweding”, the two end up making a bunch of movies that the locals fall in love with.

Sweding is something that I’m guessing many of you who read this site have done. You remake a movie from scratch. Obviously I’m not talking a Hollywood remake, this is more like a homegrown Ghost Busters costume and lousy special effects. And instead of two hours, it’s more like a twenty minute film. And with this, BE KIND REWIND offers up some unique takes on such classics as the previously mentioned Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy, but also ROBO COP, THE LION KING and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to name a few. In fact, I think many people may be inspired to recreate some of their fondest cinematic memories on their min-DV camera after watching this. But that’s not the point here. The point is to make your own voice heard. To make your own movie no matter how low the budget. And not only to tell your personal story, but share with those around you. Family and friends alike, can all experience this together. It’s a beautiful message told in a way that only Gondry could tell it.

Although this is not quite the masterpiece that ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND was, it is still a heartfelt tale. And while Jack Black is very good as the slightly off kilter, Jerry, it is Mos Def who really gives the film its heart. His performance is a shining one. His desperation to keep the store running smoothly and his drive to create movies that entertain is a very honest portrayal. He is extremely likable and charismatic here. And he shares a believable bond with kooky Jerry which never seems false. Among the rest of the cast, Farrow, Glover and a delightful Melonie Diaz offer up terrific support. There is also a absolutely clever cameo by the lovely Sigourney Weaver.

Gondry is an amazing visual artist. And while I wasn’t as blown away by this as I was with his previous work, I still felt this to be a unique and touching take on the power of community. I thoroughly enjoyed the homemade versions of classic films, even if it seemed too much time was spent on them. As entertaining as they were, they could have cut the amount of screen time they took up in half and maybe tightened up the rest of the film as the pacing felt a bit off. And with that, this is a pretty thin plot, basically two guys trying to save a video store. But luckily there is enough power outside of that, in the creative visuals Gondry continues to grace audiences with, that those looking to be entertained will find much to like here. This is a charming, although slightly flawed tale, one which will inspire moviegoers with its endearing message.

My rating 7/10JimmyO

Review: Be Kind Rewind




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.