Be Kind Rewind: In Which We OD on Jack Black and Gondry Whimsy

The pleasures of Michel Gondry's latest as writer and director do not extend far beyond the promise of its premise: Jack Black, magnetized and manic (yawn), erases every single videotape in the rental store where he hangs out and has to reshoot the movies with pal Mos Def. Theirs becomes a ramshackle filmography of redos made for pennies on the multimillions: Ghostbusters, 2001, Rush Hour 2, The Lion King, Robocop, and, most amusingly, the Ali-Foreman doc When We Were Kings. Too bad the makeovers occupy only a few minutes of screen timeā€”the film doesn't seem terribly interested even in its own conceit and instead dawdles around the margins till lurching toward the let's-put-on-a-show climax around which the film appears to have been (rather shakily) built. Be Kind, Rewind isn't amiably ambling, not affably shaggy, just a mess that gets messier till, at times, the whole thing looks improvised by amateurs more concerned with being clever than being something resembling affectionate. For the first time in the former music-video director's scattershot career, which includes a heartbreaking, mind-bending masterpiece (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which he didn't write) bookended by dazzling disappointments (Human Nature and The Science of Sleep), Gondry seems completely lost. And the greatest mystery is how something that peddles the bliss of moviemaking is absent any hint of joy.

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