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Michel Gondry
Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz, Irv Gooch, Chandler Parker, Arjay Smith, Quinton Aaron
Writing Credits:
Michel Gondry

You name it, we shoot it.

Jerry (Jack Black) has an unusual problem: his brain becomes magnetized, which wipes out the entire stock of his friend Mike's (Mos Def) video store. With all the tapes blank, Jerry and Mike set out to re-create every film ever made to make sure the store's most loyal customer, an elderly woman, keeps coming back to rent something.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.050 million on 808 screens.
Domestic Gross
$11.169 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 6/17/2008

• “Passaic Mosaic” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 29, 2008)

Best known as the man behind The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michel Gondry returns with 2008’s quirky comedy Be Kind Rewind. Mike (Mos Def) works as a clerk at a rundown video store. After his paranoid, goofball friend Jerry (Jack Black) becomes magnetized after a screwy attempt to sabotage a power plant.

When he goes away for a couple of days, store owner Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) warns Mike to keep Jerry out of the business. However, Jerry comes in anyway, and his magnetic status erases each and every videotape in the joint. When Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) threatens to expose this calamity to Mr. Fletcher unless they produce a VHS copy of Ghostbusters within four and a half hours, amateur filmmaker Mike comes up with a novel solution: he and Jerry will make their own version of the flick.

The ruse works, so they do it again when a customer requests Rush Hour 2. Not only do they pull off the gag, but also they find that their customers prefer the homemade editions. We follow the adventures of Mike and Jerry as they try to keep up with their new fame and all the customer demand – as well as an attempt to save the decrepit store from the wrecking ball.

When I saw the trailer for Rewind, I thought it looked like a fun movie. My main concern related to the flick’s “high concept” nature and the distinct possibility that it might blow its wad in its ad. Would the movie offer any laughs beyond the wackiness found in the commercial?

Yeah, but not to a tremendous degree. Once you’ve seen the trailer, you have a good idea what to expect from the film, and it doesn’t have a ton of surprises for the viewer. A lot of the flick revolves around the movie parodies, and that trend gets tiresome before long; it’s cute for a while but not something that can sustain a full feature.

When Rewind does manage to take a different path, it actually becomes even less interesting. The flick fills only 102 minutes, but it’s a long 102 minutes, largely due to the thin nature of the story. The film goes with a very simple plot about an attempt to save a building from its demise, so the homemade movies are the only twist.

Too much of Rewind feels muddled and barely coherent. It often seems incomplete, especially in terms of character development. None of the roles ever becomes anything more than one-dimensional. They exist as plot devices and don’t form into anything beyond that. Even with talented performers behind them, they’re essentially forgettable.

I can’t quite figure out what message Rewind wants to send beyond an emphasis on the strength of a community. Much of the time the flick feels like a Valentine to Passaic NJ, its setting; did the Chamber of Commerce create Rewind to encourage businesses to settle there? No, but it often feels that way, partially because Gondry a) has little story to tell, and b) can’t figure out a good way to tell what miniscule plot he has.

For instance, what’s up with the movie’s odd attack on DVDs? It seems to feel that everything old is better than everything new. The store’s building is ratty and falling apart, but we’re supposed to root for it because it’s not new and “gentrified”. Apparently VHS is better than DVD because it’s not new.

Huh? Gentrification is a complex issue with no real right or wrong; I can see both sides of that argument. However, I wasn’t aware that a pro-VHS faction still existed. Does anyone long for the old days of tapes? I don’t think so, but the film paints them in a romantic way and implies they’re “real”, unlike the cold DVD format.

There’s just too much soapboxing in the film. This extends to a tangent in which we compare a faceless mega-video store with an extremely limited selection to the one owned by our protagonists. I get the point that too many video rental spots have too few selections, but the flick portrays this issue in such a sloppy and haphazard way that it doesn’t stick.

Though that issue applies to most of Be Kind Rewind. I wanted to like the film and fully expected I would based on what I’d heard and my opinion of the folks involved. Unfortunately, I found a badly flawed, often dull movie with far too few laughs – and too little true heart – to keep me interested. There’s the seed of a good flick buried in this mess, but it can’t overcome all the flaws.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D

Be Kind Rewind appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. New Line DVDs usually look good, and this one followed the standard trend.

The only minor weaknesses related to sharpness, as a few wider shots looked a little iffy. Nonetheless, those were rare, and the majority of the flick showed good clarity and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws also failed to interfere with this clean presentation.

Though it went with a slightly stylized palette, Rewind didn’t go nuts in that regard. The colors usually looked reasonably natural, with just a little bit of a desaturated feel. The tones were well-developed overall, and blacks seemed dark and tight. Low-light shots demonstrated good clarity and visibility as well. This ended up as a satisfying presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Rewind. Although most comedies feature low-key audio, this one seemed pretty active. The various quirky elements like Jerry’s paranoid antics added zest to the package and used all five speakers well. Music boasted good stereo imaging, and the soundscape fleshed out the spectrum in a smooth and involving manner.

No problems with audio quality developed. Speech was concise and natural, and music demonstrated nice vivacity. The score and songs seemed lively and bright throughout the film. Effects were also accurate and full; low-end response appeared deep and warm. There wasn’t enough pizzazz here to enter “A” territory, but I remained very pleased with the result.

Don’t expect many extras, unfortunately. In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a featurette called Passaic Mosaic. This 10-minute and 28-second program looks at the film’s location and includes comments from director Michel Gondry, actors Jack Black, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz and various Passaic residents. It gives us a look at Passaic and tells us a little about the town. It’s moderately interesting at best.

I thought Be Kind Rewind looked like it’d be a hoot, but instead it turned out to be a bit of a bore. The flick starts off reasonably well but steadily declines to the point where I eagerly looked forward to its end. The DVD offers very good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Though the disc presents it well enough, the movie is a real disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.75 Stars Number of Votes: 8
3 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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