Be Kind Rewind ***
It is quite easy to say that Michel Gondry has quite a creative knack. As a director he is filled with so much energy and excitement. The more times I see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," the more perfect I find it to be. The more times I see "The Science of Sleep,' the more times I realize that the film is kind of a mess, if not creative and very colorful and filled with imagination to the very brim. I somewhat have to give the most credit to Charlie Kaufman for his rather genius script for "Eternal Sunshine," but the two do work as a team the make that film so great. On his own, Gondry has spirit and imagination, but at times his movies on his own can be a little uneven. Such is the case with "Be Kind Rewind," a film I liked quite a bit, but with such an oddly incredible plot it should have had a bit more. Perhaps it was the marketing, which seem to promise a rather Jack Black-esque ridiculous comedy, but I should have known better. Instead "Be Kind Rewind" ends up taking a feel good finale, which was fine and well-done (I even had some water in my eyes), but this sudden divert change in tone made the movie as a whole a bit uneven.
Taking place generally inside of Be Kind Rewind, a video store on the corner of a rather old neighborhood, run by Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) who trusts his store over to his only worker Mike (Mos Def) for the week while he goes out to do research over what makes video stores more successful. The store only rents video tapes, a dollar for a day, which is a dying breed. Mr. Fletcher's only request is for Mike to keep Jerry (Jack Black) out of the store, because he destroyed everything he touches. Mike doesn't listen because of a communication error, and when Jerry goes out to sabotage a local power plant his brain becomes magnetized. Going into the store he ends up erasing all of the tapes by touching them, leaving them with nothing. Mike becomes worried, especially when a long time customer (Mia Farrow) who is on good terms with Fletcher demands a copy of Ghostbusters. And struck with the only idea to save the store, Mike and Jerry begin to make their own versions of these movies-twenty minutes length usually-and suddenly find themselves as local celebrities.
One thing I had a problem with was the rather forced method of getting the tapes to be erased in the first place. Jerry's magnetism (and his obsession with the power plant in general) is barely introduced, and clearly only used as a way to get us to the remade movie subplots. His magnetism is also discarded quite easily, in a very Gondry style animation segment, involving pee (it was one of the few parts where I actually thoughts to my "what is going on?") Either Gondry could not think of another way to get to the remade movies, or he started writing something much different when he continued. The middle section focuses mostly on the remade movies, which is a constant thread of creativity. One example is during a version of "Boyz in the Hood," where one of the characters gets shot and instead of a pool of blood they put a cheese pizza right behind his head. Little details like that really do show Gondry's sometime genius, which has been waning since 2004. Some of the acting is a little off as well, especially since Gondry enjoys a rather casual style of dialogue, having the characters speak while the camera kind of drifts in front of them, sometimes not even paying full attention to them. It worked in "Eternal Sunshine," perhaps because Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are just much better actors than Jack Black and Mos Def.
And then the third act becomes something out of Capra. The themes of the movie come into play- preserving the old neighborhood and bringing the community together (sometimes I actually wrote an entire paper on at the tail end of high school) but it seems oddly out of place in comparison of the rest of the movie. I did enjoy it, but the three separate segments in the movie seem very loosely tied together making it a rather uneven, but still entertaining and imaginative, little movie. So I have come to not expect greatness from a Gondry film anymore, unless Charlie Kaufman has a hand with the screenplay, but I can expect something unlike anything I've seen before, and just an overall good movie.