Film review – Be Kind Rewind (2008)

After being magnified in a failed attempt to sabotage a power station Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally erases all the videotapes at a small video rental where his friend Mike (Mos Def) works. To save the business, which is under threat by developers, the pair use the local residents and whatever resources they can find to re-shoot the films, in a process they call sweding. The premise is ideal for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry’s love of childlike imagery and use of found objects. Be Kind Rewind is Gondry’s second attempt at writing and directing and it is a big improvement on the lacklustre Science of Sleep.

There aren’t any major laughs but film buffs in particular will get a huge kick out of the sweded versions of iconic films such as Ghostbusters, Robocop and The Lion King, although the inclusion of Rush Hour 2 is completely baffling. The eventual focus on the obsoleteness of videotape and small businesses surprisingly develops Be Kind Rewind into a pleasingly sweet and nostalgic film about community and local history in the face of new technologies, franchises and neighbourhood redevelopments.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 300, 2008

© Thomas Caldwell, 2008