Friday, March 7, 2008

Be Kind and DE-stroy


I was skeptical of Be Kind Rewind from the beginning. A movie about a video store owner Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) who still rents VHS... because, you know, it is secretly a superior technology and jeez have you seen the high prices of those DVD players? Some go for as much as $75. His right hand man Mike (Mos Def) is friends with Jerry (Jack Black) who lives by heavy power lines which he is convinced are creating tumors in his head yet he continues to live by them in... get this... a mobile home. The operative word here being mobile. Meaning he could move it if he wanted, but he doesn't. See... that's funny. Mr. Fletcher leaves town and asks Mike to be in charge while he's gone. And that's when the hi jinx ensue. Jerry becomes magnetized from all the electricity and he erases every VHS tape in the store. In an effort to keep the store running, Mike and Jerry make their own versions of the movies on a VHS Camcorder. Let me say that again, a VHS Camcorder. They didn't have to break any glass to fetch it out of the Museum Of Old Fashioned Electronic Equipment, it was just there by Mr. Fletcher's desk. And damn if everyone doesn't like them more than the original because you know, Camcorders are better than those big clunky film recorder thingys and who editors when you can do it in camera.

Evidently Michel Gondry believes his audience is as stupid as the people who still have functioning VHS players because this movie is completely void of anything resembling entertainment. The character development is awkward. The acting strange. The direction amateur. And most importantly, it's not funny. Not in the least. It's obvious that Gondry was going for something different here. But what? Complete and utter isolation from his audience? This movie was so bad it could not be ignored. Could not be passed off as simply just bad. The more I watched, the more angry I got. I had to leave for fear that I might set the theater on fire. This was not a cast of nobodies directed by someone who had turned in hack projects before. This movie should have been something. And that's probably what made me the most angry - a collection of talent like this with the result of Be Kind Rewind is unforgivable. People need to be punished for this kind of work and I have some thoughts.

Let's start with The Greenlighter who gave this piece of shit the thumbs up. He/she should have both his/her thumbs broken so they can never greenlight another picture again.

Then there's Jack Black. His agent should be fired and Jack Black should be forced to have a cat scan because I'm convinced a lobotomy occurred overnight that is affecting his judgement in movie choices. This guy has yet to even come close to the promise he showed in High Fidelity.

The producer Georges Bermann should be beaten with a big red flag and taught to raise it when he sees a movie like this start to fall off the tracks as it did continuously.

And then there's Michel Gondry. As the writer and director of this mess, his punishment should be the worst. First, he should be forced to watch Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind to see how quirky characters can function in real life situations and still be entertaining. Next, he should be forced to direct Daddy Day Care 3 just so he doesn't fuck up like this again. Then, he should travel the world and collect every print of this film. He should personally refund the price of the ticket to everyone who saw it and then personally apologize and promise to do better. Then the movie should go straight to VHS for the 3 people out there who still have a working player to rent and watch.

Somewhere in this pile I'm sure there's a message about the state of entertainment today and how people are craving something so new and so different that they will settle for shit on VHS. But in the process Gondry created something worse than any of that and tried to pass it off as profound art.

14 comments:

sir jorge said...

I still gotta see this one, I'm sure it's good.

bird flu said...

wow. It's like..wow. I don't...wow. But what about...wow.

I've got to see it...now.

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Piper said...

Shit, I knew it.

My review would be so negative that I it would create a ripple effect and actually cause people to want to go see it.

Dan E. said...

Your anger seems to be built on the implausibility of the set up. You can accept giant robots but not a store that still rents VHS tapes? And people who like VHS tapes? I recommend you read this piece, particularly the piece about The Fly. I haven't seen it, so I can't judge. I'm just saying that you seem pretty angry at the concept, so why bother seeing it?

Piper said...

Excellent point Dan E.

I really hadn't planned on seeing it, but did so because I wanted to hit the Alamo Drafthouse while I was in Austin. My timing was sparse so I had to see that movie. Otherwise, I would have skipped it altogether. I guess I expected to hate it, but not at the level I did. I'll check out the link.

Ray said...

It sounds like you hated the film for the concept ... which is exactly why I won't be seeing it.

The main question that comes to mind is WHY MAKE IT?? And, if you actually have some mind-altering objective behind it, then why not make it a tad more relatable??

I understand what Gondry wants to say with this film, and I guess he yearns to make his point by using some whimsical, semi-fantastical setting for his story in order to tell it. However, when movies leap into this territory, they need to create a universe that feels believable. Movies like THE PRINCESS BRIDE, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, or BEING JOHN MALKOVICH are great examples.

This just seems like a stupid way to riff on familiar favorites for the YouTube generation.

bird flu said...

Ray makes an interesting observation about the YouTube generation. Perhaps that is Gondry's ultimate goal. For people to not be intimidated by big budget Hollywood. Go out, be creative, no matter what the "effects" look like-see Science of Sleep-and et your story guide you.

Or maybe I think Gondry can do no wrong.

Piper said...

Ray,

Great comments and you're right about me hating the premise, but this movie fails on a lot more levels. Nothing really works. Jack Black is annoying and Mos Def plays humble hard-working like he's partially retarded.

In Gondry's attempt to be different, he creates a pace in the movie that dares you to follow it.

But the point about anyone can be an artist is an interesting one.

brian said...

Pipes - I agree that Jack Black was best in "High Fidelity" but I still think he shined in "School of Rock." I know we differ on this point.

This part seemed like it was made for him. The man-child who still loves to rock.

Stacie Ponder said...

Not that it has any bearing on the quality / stupidity of Be Kind Rewind, but I have a working VCR and I like it.

If I didn't, I wouldn't have bought this movie called Black Roses which was about a satanic metal band who gives concerts at schools, turning the children into parent-killing monsters. It was a dollar, and worth every penny.

Viva la VHS.

Piper said...

Actually,

If I had a working VCR, I would be able to watch Damnation Alley, a movie that haunted my childhood. And I would be able to watch Coonskin, an old Ralph Bakshi movie.

And while we're at it, Viva la Betamax.

Viva la Commodore 64.

Viva la Men Without Hats.

lucas mcnelly said...

piper,

there's a store down the street from me that primarily rents out VHS. You'd actually like it, b/c they mostly focus on cult films and strange shit you can't find elsewhere

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