Sunday, February 24, 2008

You know, with DVD there's no need to...

Be Kind Rewind seems to be far more popular than you'd expect of a Michel Gondry movie- but then it is being shown with trailers for such delightful looking "comedies" like Semi-Pro and Meet the Spartans. But all the same, I'm not sure whether the marketing for this film makes sense or not- sure, it has Jack Black, goofy comedian at large, doing his patented loopy-loser schtick, but it also has a subplot that involves Fats Waller, which hardly strikes me as something a mainstream audience would be able to get behind. As it is, the marketers have gone for the money angle and thus marketed the film using the very thing that Gondry is making fun of- big budget Hollywood. You probably know the plot involves Black and Mos Def "sweding" all the film's in Mr. Fletcher's (Danny Glover) video store after the magnetised Black erases them, and in this, Gondry seems to set himself up in somewhat of a quandry. By aping the films, he seems to be simultaneously mocking them- a theme continued by having a game Sigourney Weaver turn up as a coldhearted Hollywood representative who slams them with copyright infringement- and affectionately petting them, celebrating the grand old tradition of Hollywood.

But these strange quandries don't really matter because for the most part Be Kind Rewind isn't really interested in any kind of deeper meaning. The majority of the film is simply the recreation of the films, rather sweetly but often also rather dully shown to use either in laborious sequences (Ghost Busters may contain the amusing spectacle of watching Black cock-up the theme tune, which you've probably seen on the ads, but the rest of the sequence proves to be rather listless) or in alarmingly quick- so quick it needs boxed titles of all the films be recreated- montage, and while Gondry and his cast (which also includes a kooky Mia Farrow and a slightly garish Melonie Diaz) mine a few chuckles out of all this, there's really nothing to get the juices flowing.

So it's left to the movie's final stretches to finally reap some satisfaction. Stripped of their tapes (Weaver oversees their flattening), the amateur filmmakers instead have the bright idea of making their own film- and so a communal project of a Fats Waller biography (of sorts) begins. Here, while Gondry ultimately lays in on a bit thick by doing his own erasion of dialogue and substituting it with syrupy music, we finally see some life, so meaning- and while it may be that age old story of the community's power against the faceless corporation, it still manages to work a little bit of the movie magic Gondry's been searching for all along. C+

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