Whatever happened to the VHS? Everyone had a VCR and their own tricks to make the tape look better. These common video rituals ranged from blowing into the VCR or using the upscale cleaning kit to create a clearer picture. The one problem with this is that the tapes never lasted. The DVD became superior to tapes in picture, sound, and durability. The videotape went the way of the cassette due to these inconveniences. YouTube.com has created another big advancement in video production with people creating their own entertainment and posting it on the web. In “Be Kind Rewind” Michel Gondry decided to combine the weakness of VHS tapes and the strength of YouTube to create the idea of Sweding. “Be Kind Rewind” takes place in Passaic, New Jersey. The movie revolves around Mr. Fletcher’s (Danny Glover) video store “Be Kind Rewind.” Mike (Mos Def) works in the store and was raised by Mr. Fletcher. His best friend Jerry (Jack Black) is very slow and is always getting himself in trouble. Mr. Fletcher went away to scout out the competition (West Coast Video) and left Mike in charge. While Mr. Fletcher is gone, Jerry erases all of the tapes through a freak accident. Mike and Jerry then proceed to create their own versions of many classic films.
If the film was remade it was referred to as Sweded. The casting director made a wonderful decision by choosing Mos Def and Jack Black to create these Sweded films. Both of these men are multitalented. Mos Def has been successful with his rap career, Def Poetry, and his film and television acting. Jack Black has had a productive music career with Tenacious D and becoming a big name in comedy films. This movie would not have worked with the combination of any two other actors. The Sweded movies these two create are worth the price of admission alone.
The only problem with “Be Kind Rewind” is that there is a storyline. Usually a storyline is a necessary component of a successful film, but it may be misleading to some movie patrons. Only a portion of the film has these Sweded shorts and this may upset someone whom thought that this was the entire movie. Instead Michel Gondry (Writer and Director) tells a wonderful story about change in a small rundown town symbolic through the Sweded films and the store itself. Michel Gondry is France’s greatest contribution to film.
Gondry was in the process of pigeonholing himself into crazy dream sequence movies. This was due to the success of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep”, which were both very trippy movies. To break away from his norms he came out with the documentary style “Dave Chapelle’s Block Party.” With the release of “Be Kind Rewind” Gondry solidified himself as a top up-and-coming director. This comedy helped show that he could range from a psychedelic drama to a heartfelt comedy. Hopefully he will continue to write and create more wonderful films in the future.
This is a great movie, but it would have easily flopped if Jack Black and Mos Def did not star in it. Gondry is a creative writer and has a unique vision that comes across in his filming style. “Be Kind Rewind” would have suffered without his touches in the script and on the screen. The movie is easy to enjoy as long as you are not expecting only the Sweded remakes. Go into this movie with an open mind and you will leave with a greater appreciation of Mos Def, Jack Black, and Michel Gondry. Hey, you might even find a reason to like New Jersey, but I doubt it.
Tom Pittman is a fourth-year student majoring in psychology with a minor in mathematics. He can be reached at TP623014@wcupa.edu.