Be Kind Rewind (PG-13)

Comedy 101 February 22, 2008
By Robert Wilonsky
The pleasures of Michel Gondry's latest as writer and director do not extend far beyond the promise of its premise: Jack Black, magnetized and manic (yawn), erases every single videotape in the rental store where he hangs out and has to reshoot the movies with pal Mos Def. Theirs becomes a ramshackle filmography of redos made for pennies on the multimillions: Ghostbusters, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rush Hour 2, The Lion King, Robocop, and, most amusingly, the Ali-Foreman doc When We Were Kings. Too bad the makeovers occupy only a few minutes of screen time. The film doesn't seem terribly interested in its own conceit, instead dawdling around the margins till lurching toward the let's-put-on-a-show climax around which the film appears to have been built (rather shakily). Be Kind Rewind isn’t amiably ambling or affably shaggy; it's just a mess that gets messier. The whole thing looks improvised by amateurs more concerned with being clever than making something with what resembles affection. For the first time in the former music-video director's scattershot career, which includes a heartbreaking, mind-bending masterpiece (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which he didn't write) bookended by dazzling disappointments (Human Nature and The Science of Sleep), Gondry seems completely lost. And the greatest mystery is how something peddling the bliss of moviemaking is absent any hint of joy.
Michel Gondry Jack Black, Danny Glover, Dante 'Mos Def' Smith, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz, Chandler Parker, Samuel Rivera, Shydeshia Pickett, Arjay Smith, Quinton Aaron Michel Gondry Georges Bermann New Line Cinema