Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 9
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

NOW LISTEN UP, I’VE GOT TO GO OUT OF TOWN FOR A FEW DAYS: Mr. Fletcher, (Danny Glover) announces to his staff that he has some business to take care of and will be leaving the store in charge of Mike (Mos Def, not shown).

Be Kind, Rewind: Jack Black and Mos Def Miss Mark as Fledgling Filmmakers

Kam Williams

Mike (Mos Def) is the only employee at Be Kind, Rewind, a video rental store located in a rundown section of Passaic, New Jersey that is scheduled to undergo urban renewal. His boss, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), has just been ordered by the city to bring the place up to code in 60 days or else face eviction, after which the building will be condemned, demolished, and replaced by upscale condominiums.

Fletcher knows he needs to modernize in order to catch up with his cross-town rival, the West Coast Video chain, if his business is to survive. So he decides to leave town for a few days to do some research on the competition. Unfortunately, this means he must leave Mike in charge for the first time, which is problematical for several reasons.

First of all, Mike isn’t the brightest person, and he tends to mumble when he talks. A bigger problem is that his best friend, Jerry (Jack Black) will always be hanging around the store when Fletcher is gone. Jerry has a lot of time on his hands and lives nearby in a trailer. Furthermore, he’s convinced that a neighboring electrical plant is controlling his mind.

In Mr. Fletcher’s absence, Jerry persuades Mike to participate in a cockamamie scheme to short-circuit the power station by tossing an anchor into the transformers. Of course, the plan goes horribly wrong and Mike receives a shock of several thousand volts. This incident leaves him not only dazed and confused, but his body has become magnetized and is magnetically attracted to everything from metal street lamps to galvanized steel fences.

As a result, the next time he enters the video store, his body immediately demagnetizes and erases every videotape on the shelves. It’s not long before people start complaining that the movies they’ve rented are blank. So, the two buddies come up with the idea to re-shoot each film that a customer requests. Armed with a hand-held camcorder, the two are soon on their way to co-starring in low-budget versions of about 200 screen classics, everything from Ghostbusters, King Kong, Men in Black, Driving Miss Daisy, Boyz ‘N the Hood, to Lord of the Rings, etc., etc.

Unfortunately, Be Kind, Rewind fails to measure up to expectations. The poorly-executed recreations of familiar scenes from hit films fall flat, since we’ve been too spoiled by the spoof genre to expect more than what the two friends create.

Even the teaming of Jack Black with Mos Def leaves a lot to be desired, because they’ve been given a script written by director Michael Gondry that isn’t funny and seems pointless. The supporting cast includes Mia Farrow as an addle-pated regular customer who stumbles in and out of the store, and Melonie Diaz is an aspiring actress who is given nothing of interest to do in the picture.

Sadly, nothing can save this overambitious enterprise embarked upon by a couple of idiots, full of sound and fury but ultimately signifying nothing.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for sexual references. Running time: 101 minutes. Studio: New Line Cinema.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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