Jack Black and Mos Def Miss Mark as Fledgling Filmmakers in Ambitious Buddy Comedy
Mike (Mos Def) is the only employee at Be Kind, Rewind, a video rental store located in a rundown section of Passaic, New Jersey slated 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, in which case 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 bulb in the batch, and he tends to mumble when he talks. A bigger issue is the prospect of his best friend, Jerry (Jack Black) hanging around the store. This paranoid loser has a lot of time on his hands and lives in a trailer at a nearby junkyard. Furthermore, he’s convinced that a neighboring electrical plant is controlling his mind.
In Mr. Fletcher’s absence, Jerry soon pressures the readily-suggestible Mike to participate in a cockamamie scheme to short circuit the power station by tossing an anchor into the works. Of course, the plan goes horribly wrong and Mike ends receiving a shock of several thousand volts. This incident leaves him not only dazed and confused, but magnified to the extent that his body now starts sticking to everything from metal street lamps to galvanized steel fences.
The plot thickens the next time he enters Be Kind, Rewind, when 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 buddies come up with another crazy idea, namely, to re-shoot each film a customer requests. Armed only 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 to King Kong to Men in Black to Driving Miss Daisy to Boyz ‘N the Hood to Lord of the Rings.
Unfortunately, as promising as this premise might read, Be Kind, Rewind fails to measure up to expectations. The poorly-executed recreations of familiar scenes from hit films simply fall flat, since we’ve been too spoiled by the spoof genre to expect much more than this sloppily-mounted mess that wouldn’t measure up favorably to The Little Rascals.
Even the teaming of Jack Black with Mos Def leaves a lot to be desired, as they’ve been abandoned by a rudderless, humorless script written by director Michael Gondry that isn’t funny and seems pointless. The miscast supporting ensemble includes Mia Farrow as an addlepated store regular who stumbles in and out occasionally and eye candy Melonie Diaz as 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, the flick’s moral pretentions notwithstanding.