2008-03-07 / Columnists

MovieScope

'Be Kind Rewind' - Attack Of The Tapeheads
Review By Robert Snyder

Could it be that Hollywood is jealous, or even threatened, by the onslaught of You-Tube amateur filmmakers?

With "Be Kind Rewind," we have big star Jack Black as a loiterer in a dying VHS rental store, making Ed Woodesque versions of such classic Hollywood movies as "Driving Miss Daisy," "Ghostbusters" and none other than "King Kong," the recent megabucks remake in which the actor himself starred. His character, Jerry, does this because he inadvertently became magnetized and erased all the tapes in the store. So Jerry and store manager Mike (Mos Def) desperately decide to shoot their own cheapie versions of the classics before boss Fletcher (Danny Glover) returns from a convention on jazz legend Fats Waller. A diehard fan of Waller, Fletcher is convinced that the decrepit video store in Passaic, N.J., is the place of the jazzman's birth and, therefore, an historic landmark, which should be exempt from the planned demolition by the government wrecking ball.

But, despite the plot mechanics, the focus and funniness of "Be Kind Rewind" stems from the riotous makeshift movies, churned out by Mike and Jerry-movies that grow into a sensational success among the local video renters. Jerry explains why: "Our movies are better and only 20 minutes long."

What is Hollywood saying about itself?

In true commercial fashion, the powers that be are embracing the people's takeover of the entertainment business, but saying they want a piece of it, too. A copyright lawyer (Sigourney Weaver) is thrown in to be the big guy, crushing the Mike and Jerry masterpieces with a steamroller. Still, it doesn't stop the incensed amateurs from making their own original movie on the life of Fats Waller. The final street screening of the homegrown epic has a teary sentimentality, reminiscent of "It's a Wonderful Life."

Written and directed by always unusual Michael Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), "Be Kind Rewind" has a Frank Capra heart of gold in its clarion call for the people to seize the people's medium: Movies. So get out your video/digital camera and start filming.

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