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This week:
Be Kind Rewind

Filthy says:
"Feed the kids the formula."

The difference between Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind and most movies is that it has one great idea in it. Otherwise, they are a lot the same. Both have limpdick plots with "ticking timebombs" to set artificial deadlines for when the climax must happen. Both have reluctant heros. Both have botched romantic subplots. Both have lame, sappy endings.

At least Gondry's got the great gimmick. I hear he stole it from The Amanda Show on Nickelodeon. I wouldn't know; I only watch the warring robot cartoons there. The idea is the central conceit of Be Kind Rewind: a magnetized Jack Black accidentally erases all the videocassettes in the video store where Mos Def works, so the two hatch a plan to re-record the movies before the boss gets back. With an old, battered camcorder and about eight buck's worth of supplies, they reshoot Ghostbusters, RoboCop, Lord of the Rings, Rush Hour 2, King Kong and a couple hundred others around Passaic, New Jersey. They use friends and acquaintances as additional cameramen and actors. The process is dubbed "Sweded" by Black, because he wants to charge customers more by claiming his and Def's versions are customized and imported from Sweden.

The best and funniest part of the movie is watching them remake flicks on the cheap,. They use a toy car grill for King Kong's mouth, and a Hot Wheels rug as the cityscape under a man supposedly hanging from the side of a skyscraper. Black, who's about as naturally hammy as a potbellied pig, gets to overact. He's great at that. Mos Def, whose main feature is that he's likable, gets to mutter and sound reluctant.

When Black and Def make movies, Be Kind Rewind is great. When the rest of the story happens. it's embarrassingly dopey and trite. It's sort of like someone making a shitty wrap with good cold cuts, when a simple sandwich would have been better. Danny Glover plays an old man named Fletcher who owns the video store. His building is about to be condemned and turned into cheesy modern apartments. He tells everyone that Fats Waller was born in his building; it's a lie to make the place seem like more than the dump it is. Of course, Black and Def scheme to raise enough money to save the building through their Sweded movies.

Putting on a show to save a condemned building for an old man is also the plot of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, and that movie sucked so much ass the people involved are just now able to take a crap again. It's also the plot of about one hundred Hallmark and Disney Channel movies that suck dick, upper leg, genitalia and lower abdomen.

Gondry might have gotten away with it if he had winked at the lameness of the plot, but he doesn't. In fact, he piles onto it with such sorry ass tropes as a faceless, large competitor called West Coast Video. Yeah, like a video store chain can be seen as a powerful behemoth these days. Fuck, I can't believe any of them are still in business. Anyway, that subplot goes nowhere. There's also a downright uncomfortable subplot about the community teaming up to help save the store that ends the movie in a way just a little too sappy for a 1940s Frank Capra movie. There is a near-kiss in a romantic subplot that disappears as quickly as quarters on the pool table when the Harelip is around. Another subplot that goes nowhere and means nothing is the appearance of a studio executive who destroys all the Sweded movies for copyright infringement. It's just a Deus ex Machina -- that's a fancy way of saying some bullshit that a director jams in to turn the direction of the plot when he's run out of ideas for its current direction.

The characters are also all one-dimnesioned and dull. Black is zany, in the worst Hollywood movie way. Def is just dull. The romantic lead, Melonie Diaz should at least show us her boobs. Glover just acts old. None of them are worth rooting for.

I guess Gondry just stopped trying after he came up with the Sweding part. That part is good, though. It reminded me how much fucking fun it is to just take a camcorder and make a movie. Except, not the kind in the bedroom because--no matter how well I hide the camera--Mrs. Filthy always figures it out and asks, "Why is that dirty sock whirring?" It also is a great reminder that what makes a movie so much fun to watch is not technical skills or fancy-ass special effects. Sure, those help, but the soul of a movie is not its laser battles. The people making it have to believe in it, and have to be trying. The Sweded movies here have that spirit, and it's infectious, even if Black and Def are incompetent boobs.

Think about it this way: Be Kind Rewind ain't a great movie, but it may inspire people to Swede their own movies, and more folks to try. The most a shitflick like Transformers does is encourage people to buy new lunchboxes. For that alone, this movie doesn't suck. Three Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



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