Jack’s home movies
BE KIND REWIND Directed by Michel Gondry. Starring Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Sigourney Weaver 12A cert, gen release, 94 min
WHEN Michel Gondry, the French director of deranged pop videos, followed up Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the amusing but hopelessly muddled Science of Sleep, many observers decided that, though undoubtedly a director of strange genius, he might be best advised to leave the screenwriting to others. Indeed, some cynics suggested that Charlie Kaufman, co-writer of Eternal Sunshine, was the true auteur of that fine film.
Be Kind Rewind finds Gondry working from his own script once more. But, happily, the film – though it looks like the work of certifiable lunatics – is somewhat more digestible than The Science of Sleep. Jack Black and Mos Def play video store employees who, following a failed attempt to break into a power station, accidentally erase all their employer’s tapes (yes that’s right children, films once came on just such a quaint medium).
When eccentric old Mia Farrow calls in looking to rent Ghostbusters, they decide to remake the film themselves. Their film, whose special effects are fashioned from found rubbish, is a hit with the customers and soon they’re remaking the entire stock.
Fans of Gondry will discern an element of autobiography in that summary. The director has always preferred the Blue Peter approach to film-making – plenty of sticky-backed plastic and washing-up liquid bottles – over a reliance on too much computer-generated imagery. Here, he and his team find endlessly hilarious ways of reinterpreting such unlikely pictures as When We Were Kings and Rush Hour 2 while nudging along a plot that, despite its thinness, exhibits an agreeable Capraesque arc.
Be Kind Rewind may play to the Now crowd, and it may feature a very arch take on contemporary reality, but, at its core, it is a sentimental piece that sets out to celebrate good old-fashioned values such as neighbourliness, generosity and the importance of rewinding the VHS before you return it to the store. Both hip and heartwarming.
Driving Miss Daisy Redux: Mos Def and Jack Black