Movie Review: <i>Be Kind Rewind</i>

Be Kind Rewind is kinda like a cupcake—quirky-cute, and sweet while
you're savoring it, but as soon as it's down the hatch, you feel like you
swallowed little more than fluffy air. But that's alright. Though it won't rock
your world the way we want a Michel Gondry movie to—there are certainly
worse things for a movie to be than likeable. Set in dreary Passaic, New Jersey,
it's populated by the kind of oddball characters that populated Gondry's
previous movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science
of Sleep
. There is man-child Jerry (Jack Black), a mechanic waging a
private war against a power plant; Mike (Mos Def), his kind best friend
who works in a failing VHS movie rental store out of loyalty to the hopelessly
anachronistic man who raised him; and Alma (Melonie Diaz), a dry cleaning
store worker with hidden talents. When Jerry's brain gets magnetized while he's
trying to sabotage the power plant and he accidentally erases all the tapes in
Mike's store, the friends recruit Alma to help them shoot their own ghetto
versions of classics like Ghostbusters, Robocop and The Lion
King
. In order to save the store. Their versions catch on with neighbors,
but uh-oh, enter the dreamkillers: Hollywood studio lawyers who come knocking
over copyright infringement, and what's worse, the city, which wants to demolish
the building the store is in.

We've seen Jack Black's manic schtick in too many times to be wowed, though
it serves the movie well, as well as Mos Def's offhand, low-key appeal. Melonie
Diaz is indie-girl-next-door charming, though her character is by far the least
fleshed out of the three. Gondry's specialty is creating worlds where outcasts
build and live their lives with little to no reference to the mainstream world
or need for its validation, so the scenes when the threesome is shooting—in
which props and costumes are ingeniously built out of bits of cardboard, wire,
cotton balls, anything that's lying around —are by far the most engaging and
funny in the movie. Ultimately, though, the movie lacks the emotional punch or
wit of Gondry's wonderfully offbeat, screenplay-Oscar-winning Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
. Be Kind Rewind has just enough heart
to keep you from totally fearing that the director is pulling a Wes
Anderson—another talented auteur whose quirkiness has turned into preciousness,
turning his movies into dioramas.

Damarys Ocaña

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