In the nonsensical Jack Black comedy, a film-rental store remakes famous movies by reenacting scenes with amateur actors.
The premise of "Be Kind Rewind" should be taken not with a grain of salt, but with a ton. And that's only the first of its many problems.
Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) owns a video-only rental shop in Passaic, N.J., in a dilapidated building he claims was the birthplace of jazz great Fats Waller. Since the building is slated for imminent demolition unless it can be brought up to code, Fletcher slips out of town on a fact-finding mission. He leaves the store in the care of clerk Mike (Mos Def) with strict orders to bar the entry of local roustabout Jerry (Jack Black), who carries out a commando raid on the local power plant and, as a result, is electrified and becomes a walking magnet.
Now here's where that ton of salt comes in. Jerry saunters through the video store and promptly erases its entire inventory. Instead of replacing it, or switching to DVDs, Mike and Jerry, along with co-worker Alma (Melonie Diaz), re-enact the movies as hasty home movies and fob the videos off on their customers. Although at least one of the renters, a shy homebody played by Mia Farrow, can't detect the scam, the other regulars do – and they prefer the mock-ups to the originals!
Writer-director Michel Gondry made two movies scripted by Charlie Kaufman – the misfire "Human Nature" and the overrated "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" – and wrote and directed "The Science of Sleep," a Charlie Kaufman wannabe that had some sweet moments. He's a classic case of a director who needs a good writer to rein in his worst impulses. (And although Kaufman is a great screenwriter, I much prefer the scripts he wrote for Spike Jonze.) With almost zilch narrative sense, and a wayward grasp of character, Gondry falls back on pretty pictorials and head-trip phantasmagoria.