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
I gave this comedy 9 stars because I wholeheartedly believe it deserves it. I pondered on whether I should give it a ten. What puzzles me, though, is that it didn't get more stars, and why there are so many negative reviews on this site (though most are positive). I have a feeling it may be because many of those who gave it negative reviews did not get what they expected. Either because Gondry reached the wrong audience, or the reviewers are comparing it to predefined templates it does not, and should not try to fit into. In other words, they do not really SEE the movie, and complain about "flaws" that could have been relevant if the movie was a completely different one.
Most of the negative reviewers, even many of the positive ones, compares it unfavourably to another Gondry movie, "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind". I saw it got an amazing reviews on IMDb and gave it a shot. I thought it sucked, the story/casting was that of a standard Hollywood romantic-comedy-drama, though the visual part was inspiring and creative. What this means is just that Eternal sunshine and Be Kind Rewind are two very different kinds of movies, probably suited for different kinds of audiences too - though Be Kind... is very accessible and probably will amuse and entertain viewers from most camps.
Therefore, let's look at what the movie will NOT give you:
* Strong, character-driven, tear dropping interpersonal drama, with Hollywood's traditional dose of love and passion, of the kind that Eternal sunshine was.
* Wacky, lighthearted brainless humour like School of Rock.
Some of the reviewers complain about lack of character depth. Perhaps this mantra that all- movies-must-have-character-depth has something to do with the extreme focus on the individual that we have in the western world, and USA especially. The movie is not about individuals or characters, so don't deride it for that. What the movie is about, I'll get back to.
Other negative reviewers complain that it's not quite like "School of Rock". They probably saw Jack Black on the cover and expected something like it. Apart from the ultra-light wacky humour of the opening, this movie is not like that.
So what does the movie HAVE?
It is a lightheaded comedy about serious things like poverty, capitalism, staying together, how people use art and history to construct their collective identities, and above all, how the perfectionism and glitzy effects of modern film-making takes the joy and creativity away from the people and makes us passive consumers. It's about taking the joy and power of creativity back to the people, and the communities where it belongs. A bit like the punk revolution in the music scene brought tons of kids out in the garage to start their own bands, just far more inclusive and accessible.
But here's the GREAT part: The movie doesn't TRY so hard to be smart, political etc... Don't expect high- brow humour because you won't get it here! It is all packed into a light comedy frame, and almost exclusively looks at the bright side of life, with a heartwarming belief in the good of people and the strength of people staying together. It's hilarious, but slightly cultish, those in love of cult movies and seeking and alternative to a Hollywood machine drenched in dollars will absolutely love it. Others will have a great time too.
Watch it. But watch it for what it is, not for what it's not.
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