Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

"I'm Bill Murray, you're everybody else."

Films with a slow start usually pick-up along the way.

After the drawn-out first half-hour, this one positively rockets.

That first reel, if we can still use such terms, works far too hard to get Mos Def and Jack Black started in their new career parodying popular movies on an even lower budget than Bowfinger.

When they finally begin, these sequences are inventive and funny from the word go, helped by the enthusiasm that the real-life actors seem to have for the concept. Much of their talking over each other has the appearance of improvisation, and Jack Black's verbal diarrhoea while dressed up as Miss Daisy looks like it could go on for a while, and still remain funny.

Be Kind Rewind's big failing though is in the juxtaposition of these insane no-budget productions with Mike and Jerry's real world, which you might expect to by contrast be gritty and believable.

It's not. Jerry is a wild-eyed conspiracy-theorist who becomes super-magnetised and urinates special effects.

If that didn't already sound like the sort of thing that only happens in movies, they then have nowhere near enough time in which to shoot the 18-minute epics that they do.

Next, after their whole Ghostbusters sequence, it turns out that someone on the Be Kind Rewind production team has unwisely gone and hired Sigourney Weaver to play a Hollywood lawyer. I can see how that was perhaps intended to be clever. However when she promptly destroys the pair's entire back-catalogue of productions, all the tragedy for our heroes falls flat, because just by standing there Sigourney Weaver is constantly reminding us that Mike and Jerry are not real anyway.

(kudos to Channel Five for screening Ghostbusters just before this!)

A better-placed in-joke might have been to have given Danny Glover's already established character a few funny lines in a Lethal Weapon parody, as that would have been a much more light-hearted context, and something that we could have really rooted for.

For the last act, Be Kind Rewind develops some real heart, and the final bittersweet movie put together by all their friends looks quite fascinating in its uniqueness. In fact, it'd look quite watchable if only they hadn't added all the flickering and gate-scratches.

Finally, one big advantage that this film has over the aforementioned Bowfinger, is that director Michel Gondry actually had the foresight to record a few of Mike and Jerry's sweded movies during production. As a result, after the film proper was over, I was able to go on the internet and watch these characters again, doing exactly what had made their exploits so appealing in the first place.

Ironically, this ain't so much a film about movie-making on VHS, as it is about movie-making on your phone.

Available here.
With thanks to Channel Five.


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