REEL CRITIC:

If you've ever dreamed about shooting your own movie, there is an excellent chance you'll enjoy the offbeat comedy, “Be Kind Rewind.” If you're looking for belly laughs and mainstream humor, wait until this movie becomes a rental. Sadly enough, you won't have to wait that long.

Imagine if you were the only employee at a rundown video store and your idiot friend accidentally erased all the tapes on the shelves.

This happens to a guy named Mike (Mos Def), when his genius friend Jerry (Jack Black) magnetizes himself during a mishap at the nearby power plant and then enters the dilapidated business and begins touching things. All hell breaks loose, and then Mike and Jerry come up with a goofball plan to re-shoot the movies as individual short films in order to keep the business alive while the owner (Danny Glover) is out of town.

To their surprise, the town folk in their New Jersey community like their versions better, and the store becomes a hit. What creative things can these amateur filmmakers use to create their mini-masterpieces? How many complaints will the paper get about my review? Will Mike and Jerry make enough money to stop developers from demolishing their historic building for condos?

In a somewhat disjointed 101 minutes, the writer and director, Michel Gondry, answers some of these questions, and a few others linger long after you leave the theater.

Since it's a high-concept comedy, “Be Kind Rewind” is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of movie. For people who went to film school or work in the movie business, this will be an instant cult classic. My screening was filled with talented people like myself, and almost everyone got the inside jokes and movie references.

The scenes where the guys recreate vintage movie scenes with nothing but a cheap video camera and some imagination are inspiring to say the least. It reminded me of my five years in state college when I was forced to beg, borrow and steal to finish a student film. Those of you looking to make your own epic can learn a lot about moviemaking by watching these two bumbling fools. Their stressed out interpretation of “Ghostbusters” is worth the price of admission.

Shockingly, some people in my inner circle hated this movie. If you're expecting a typical Jack Black picture, you'll definitely not enjoy the experience. Black's performance is very similar to many of his previous efforts, but Gondry's script has serious levels and contains a heartfelt message about life and creativity.

How would I describe this film in one sentence? “Be Kind Rewind” is a complex art-house comedy. I discussed the film at length over dinner with my extremely film-savvy date, Kathryn. We couldn't think of a comparable movie. If you think of one, jot me a note. Better yet, pay our tab.

This is by no means a perfect film. I wish the production could have been set in the late 1990s instead of present day. This would have opened the door for more comedy and made the renting of videotapes more logical. This is only a minor complaint and not a deal breaker.

A major subplot revolves around jazz musician Fats Waller. Both the soundtrack and musical score are exceptional, and 90% of my audience stuck around for Mos Def's closing-credits song. The other 10% rushed out to go watch NASCAR.

Since Gondry is a famous commercial and music video director, the look and feel is much different from typical studio productions, but the technical aspects are strong and noteworthy.

Some readers may disagree with my assessment of “Be Kind Rewind” and might be motivated to write a disapproving letter to my editor. If that's the case, please be kind, but I stand by my opinion, and I give this comical new release Matt's pick of the week.


?MATT BELLNER is an actor and filmmaker from Burbank.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
57°