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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Be Kind Rewind

Most Hollywood movies based around a gimmick don't have anything else to recommend them: the problem with Be Kind Rewind is that it has so much going on around it's central idea that it gets swamped. So what really should be nothing more than a movie in which Jack Black and Mos Def make shoddy home-made versions of Hollywood blockbusters like Robocop and Ghostbusters - and seriously, that idea alone is more than enough to get people into a cinema - instead becomes in the hands of director Michel Gondry (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) a bloated salute to the power of imagination to bring a community together... through making dodgy versions of old Hollywood blockbusters. The set-up feels both rushed and drawn out, as if Gondry knew he had to explain what was going to happen but wasn't really interested in getting it right: Def works at the tatty video-only store owned by Danny Glover, while Black lives next door to a power station he thinks is warping his mind. And maybe he's right: he's crazy enough to get magnetised during a botched sabotage effort, and it's his magnetism that erases the store's tapes. So when Mia Farrow wants to rent Ghostbusters and threatens to report Def to Glover when he says he doesn't have it, they decide to make their own version. The idea takes off, and soon the whole neighbourhood is clamouring to see their versions of the old classics... because not only does no-one have a DVD player, they also don't have access to YouTube. We only get to see snippets of the fake movies, which is a massive shame as they're the best things in the film. Instead, we get plenty of crowd shots of the local community, because community's important and... well, exactly what this has to do with remaking old movies is never really made clear. And that's this films problem: so much of it is just thrown away (including the great main idea) that what's supposedly important might as well be thrown away too.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #422)

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