Michel Gondry's movies came into my radar in 2004 with his excellent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which became my movie of the year. Unfortunately though, local distributors didn't think that Science of Sleep can pull in a decent crowd, so that got to sit on DVD shelves instead. But I guess with Jack Black's name attached to this project, billed a comedy, confidence is relatively higher that Be Kind Rewind could rake in some profits.
However, the movie is not so much a comedy as it is made out to be. Instead, what I felt about and from the movie, is to go make one of my own. Serious. Low or no budget doesn't mean bad quality, so long as you put your heart and soul into doing something that you believe in earnestly, and along the way, to have fun while at it. What's more, you can even build a community of like-minded people around your product, and I thought that it was a great social glue in having to pour blood sweat and tears into making some of the most insanely creative and innovative shorts / spoofs of popular films that you have out there. Fact is, after watching Be Kind Rewind, I thought the short that my friends and I did some 2.5 years back, was a kind of testament to this spirit.
Mos Def plays Mike, a video store clerk who gets entrusted with Be Kind Rewind Video Store when its owner, Elroy Fletcher, goes on a business trip to learn more about the DVD business, and to save his old shop from demolition. Of course, here comes Jack Black as Jerry, Mike's best friend and strange social activist, to want Mike's help in taking out a power station. Things naturally go awry, and Jerry turns into a human magnet, and accidentally demagnetizes all the video tapes in the store. So what happens when a loyal customer Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow), who has the ear of Elroy, and with Mike knowing his job hangs in the balance, comes to the shop to get her fix? They make their own, in record time, to bluff their way through.
So begins the endless amount of spoofs (ok, I counted about 11 from the end credit roll) of movies from Lion King to Robocop, Ghostbusters to King Kong, but don't expect anything more than a minute being recreated for the screen. Having to shoot the movies in record time means they have to create them from scratch and with as little budget as possible, which leads to insanely creative methods to get the job done. You have to tip your hats off to Michel Gondry for coming up with the crazy spoofs in an extremely low tech way, but somehow it inspires as it sincerely comes from deep down inside the heart. There's even a term used in the movie for this movie-making technique, called "Sweded", and I suspect however, despite what the end credits say about the sweded movies being available on the official web site, we're gonna see it on the DVD instead.
But it's not all about spoofs and comedy as I mentioned. There's a nice touch of comparison between a DVD and a VHS video store, how one becomes the dominant medium over the other in this contemporary age, and how the marketing and sales operations of one store differs from another, kind of like the old one screen cinemas had given way to the newer, smaller screened multi-plexes. Jazz fans will be in for a treat too, as it gets weaved unobtrusively into the entire narrative.
In essence, this is not so much as a laugh out loud comedy, but a reminder that our imagination knows no bounds, and when coupled with tenacity, aspiring filmmakers out there need to look no further than Be Kind Rewind to provide that initial catalyst to kick start those creative juices within you. I know I'll be working hard on my screenplay after this!