The main frustration with Be Kind Rewind is that it fritters away a brilliant idea for a movie. After a bit of hokum involving Danny Glover heading off and leaving his rapidly-failing video shop in the charge of Mos Def, with specific orders not to let Jack Black’s character near it, the fit royally hits the shan when Black manages to erase every tape in the shop.
This, clearly, is a problem, especially when Mia Farrow comes knocking, insistent on taking home a copy of Ghostbusters. There’s only one thing for it: Black and Def have to remake (or ‘swede’) the film with a camcorder and the resources at their disposal. And it’s funny. It’s not a razor-sharp spoof, but there’s a lot of fun in watching the pair recreating key scenes from the film, albeit without the budget. Clearly it helps, of course, if you’re familiar with the films they’re recreating, of course, but even without that, you suspect there’s a lot of fun in watching the pair improvise Ghostbusters.
This should, then, be a platform for further mini-remakes, and for a short while it is. Skits bringing in the likes of Rush Hour 2, Robocop and Carrie are very good, but as the running times moves on, the ‘sweding’ dilutes, and the clumsy, obvious plot kicks in. Said plot is also the reason why the film takes longer than you’d like for it to actually get going.
For gluing all this together is a fairly uninteresting plot about Glover’s love for local hero Fats Waller, although this does at least help set up a well put-together ending (and, let’s face it, it’s always a treat to see Danny Glover on screen). By the end, there’s even a nasty film industry lawyer, in a fun-yet-brief cameo from Sigourney Weaver, along with boo-hiss building developers to aim at, and these are strands that the film does pull together perfectly well.
But it’s still frustrating. It’s the skits that are the appeal, and they cover too little of the film’s running time. Instead, what we get is a sporadically entertaining, but uneven film, that you can’t help feel squanders a potentially much better end product.
The extras package isn’t too bad, however. There’s a diverting half-hour making of documentary, featuring contributions from all the main players, and the conversation between Jack Black and writer/director Michel Gondry (who previously gave us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) turns out to be better than it first appears.
Another mini-featurette, Passaic/Mosaic, shows the impact of the film’s location shoot on the locals of a small town (replete with enthusiastic police photographers!), while Booker/T & Michel Gondry looks at recording with the former. Jack & Mos improvise songs sees Gondy getting Jack Black and Mos Def to come up with theme songs on the spot for the films they skit, and it’s not too bad a way to spend five minutes. Meanwhile, perhaps the best extra is the full short film, Fats Was Born Here, from the main feature.
A commentary track is a major omission, sadly, but the assembled material here isn’t too bad. The disc is well presented, too, with a clear high definition transfer. And while it’s not the Blu-ray you’ll be reaching for when you want to show off your rig (and you’re not losing too much by picking up the DVD instead, to be fair), it’s a good job done on a modestly budgeted film.
It’s just not a flick that’s vital to see.
The Movie The Disc