Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
In Passaic, NJ, Elroy Fletcher runs a video store in a condemned building he claims was the birthplace of Fats Waller. Fletcher goes on a Waller centennial trip, leaving his foster son Mike in charge of the store. Mike's peculiar friend Jerry tries to sabotage a power station and nearly electrocutes himself, getting magnetized in the process. He inadvertently erases every tape in the store. Mike and Jerry hatch an plan to hide the disaster by making a homemade "Ghostbusters" to rent to a woman whom Fletcher will be phoning to check on them. Soon, with help, their homemade versions of films develop a cult following. Will this new business save the store and the building? What about Fats? Written by
This is the latest brainchild of Michel Gondry the one time video maker turned director of 'Eternal Sunshine..' and 'The Science of Sleep' and once again there's a visual feast on offer. On many levels this is just a clever comedy but on many others its much more than that, it is a homage to film-making as a whole, the death of artistry in the face of technology, the sense of community that cinemas can bring in a world where cinema is struggling against the internet and apathy. Jack Black and Mos Def play at odds friends who have an outlet running the local video store 'Be Kind Rewind', with the huge DVD emporium down the road the business is struggling and in danger of being pulled down to make way for condos. After a freak accident wipes all the tapes in the shop the pair decide to remake all the films rather than get caught and lose the shop and this then is where Gondry et al step up to the mark and let their imaginations run wild with hilarious consequences. The first film they make is 'Ghostbusters' and it sets the premises of what is to come as they do their own versions of 'Robocop, Lion King, Rush Hour 2 and Men in Black to name but a few. Black and Def play off each other really well but it's the ingenuity in the sets and lo-fi costumes that make all these little twenty minute 'Swedes' (The tapes are described as having come from Sweden as an excuse for higher rental fees and longer wait times) brilliantly funny. They are even available to watch online and you're also encouraged to make your own! The story is for want of a better word silly and my only criticism I have is that Gondry tends to be too whimsical and over idealistic at times but that said he is portraying a fantasy world where he can play like a child with bits of old rubbish and sticky back plastic and come up with stunning arty creations that shine on screen. With so much subject matter to work with Gondry picks films that he is sure most people will have seen, although I hadn't seen 'Rush Hour 2' and so struggled to find all of that section funny, so on the off chance you haven't seen any of the films being Sweded you may wonder what the hell is going on. Be Kind.. is not a new story or even a new idea but it has new things to say about the state of the industry, copyright law and ownership that hide subtly below the comedy and it is so full of visual ideas it's a film you could quite easily watch again. Not as dark as 'Eternal Sunshine' and slightly better than 'Science of Sleep' Gondry is proving he can do aesthetically great lo-fi films without the lure of CGI or the Hollywood big budget. Like the war between VHS tapes and DVDs Gondry is taking on the big boys and coming out relatively unscathed.
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