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Be Kind Rewind (2008)

September 15, 2009

VERDICT:
8/10 Homemade Remakes

One of my favorite movies of ’08. Might not be for everyone, but it’s worth the payoff for those who stick with it.

Be Kind Rewind is about two endearing simpletons in a downbeat area of New Jersey that are put in charge of what might be the last mom-and-pop video store on Earth that only rents out VHS tapes. But as is usually the case when simpletons are placed in seats of power, one of them turns into a human magnet due to a freak encounter with a power transformer and he unintentionally erases all the VHS movies in the store. Their solution: Swede the erased movies.

What?

Right. Instead of re-buying all the VHS tapes, they decide to “Swede” all the movies that people want to see, an inverted term which means they grab a video camera and film themselves re-enacting the best parts of some of history’s greatest movies like Ghost Busters, Robocop, and Boyz ‘N the Hood among others. The finished product looks something like a CliffsNotes version of a fourth-grader’s extra credit project, but it’s absolutely hilarious.

It goes from being a movie with a weird premise to a story about community and the power of film in bringing people together. The Sweding stint goes from a temporary solution to a town-wide phenomenon that brings everyone together to tell each others’ stories and marvel in each others’ lives.

The first half-hour is pretty slow and kinda strange, but once the Sweding starts up, I couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin off my face. And that’s the great thing about Michel Gondry movies, I feel like they’re always aimed at celebrating the extraordinary in everyday life and making our wildest imaginations a physical reality. It actually reminds me a lot of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party which he directed a while back, and even though it doesn’t feel like a Gondry movie from a visual standpoint, it also captures this overwhelming notion that life is good and everyone in the theater, everyone on screen, and everyone behind the camera are all here to enjoy it.

As you watch everyone on-screen get involved, you can’t help but feel involved yourself. It makes you want to go pick up that video camera that’s been collecting dust in your closet, call up your friends, and Swede your own movie that you can laugh your ass off to.

And as for the acting, Jack Black and Mos Def are solid choices. I feel like Mos Def has yet to really make a name for himself, but when it comes to rappers turned legitimate actors, he might be at the top of a very short list. And I think Jack Black is just a funny bastard in general. I’m sure some people will disagree with me, but whatever, dude’s a riot; there’s a guy I’d love to hang out with. Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, and Sigourney Weaver also have bit roles and they’re all good, too. So that’s cool.

But going back to my previous point, Be Kind Rewind is just one of those movies that reminds you of the magic of going to the movies. It’s one hell of a feel-good movie and I highly recommend it, especially if you dig Gondry’s other works.

There’s a great quote by Quentin Tarantino that came about when someone asked him what his advice was to people who wanted to break into film making like he did, and his response was something along the lines of, “Go. Make. Movies. Don’t wait for someone to come along and pay you to do it, just grab a camera and make the movie you want to make, and if it’s good, people will notice.”

Good advice. I think Gondry and Tarantino are on to something here.

SIDE NOTE:
This site‘s got some pretty awesome fan-made Sweded movies, you know, to give you an idea of what this whole Sweding thing’s all about.

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