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Be Kind Rewind
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the stars of this comedy -- Jack Black and Mos Def -- are both extremely popular with teens and even tweens. Happily, the movie is age-appropriate for both groups (particularly teens). There's some language (including "s--t"), but not as much as in most PG-13 films, and virtually no sexual activity, save for a few "on camera" kisses while the characters re-shoot movies. There's also one discussion about "getting action." The main product tie-ins are West Coast Video and the re-filmed movies themselves.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jack Black and Mos Def star as best friends Jerry and Mike, who live in Passaic, New Jersey, and spend their time working in BE KIND REWIND, a small video store (VHS only!) owned by Mike's former guardian, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). While Mr. Fletcher -- who's trying to save his building from being condemned -- is on a trip, Jerry gets unintentionally magnetized by the power plant he lives next to and accidentally erases all of the tapes in the store. Desperate not to lose customers, the duo decides to film no-budget, amateurish versions of a few movies for their customers. Much to their astonishment, the redone videos are a hit, and soon people are lining up to get their favorite movies "Sweded" (redone) by Jerry, Mike, and their hired leading lady, Alma (Melonie Davis).
Is it any good?
Devotees of eccentric French director Michel Gondry may be slightly disappointed that Rewind isn't the mind-bending masterpiece that 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was for many. But it's still dreamlike in many ways. That people would embrace and participate in silly remakes of blockbuster or cult movies is definitely far-fetched, as is the sense that Passaic is a sleepy urban town that folks get "stuck in," rather than a suburb of New York City. Forgiving the believability of the setting or the circumstances (who runs a VHS-only video store?), the film is, like most of Gondry's work, charming and endearing, with most of the laughs stemming predictably from Black's manic behavior and Def's pitch-perfect straight man work.
Glover, who usually doesn't look like a man in his 60s, is delightful as the store owner who slowly comes to accept and contribute to the new business model of custom movies, even playing Morgan Freeman to smitten neighbor Mia Farrow's Jessica Tandy in a Sweded version of Driving Miss Daisy. And Hollywood newcomer Melonie Diaz (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) is adorable as the guys' go-to actress/director/cinematographer. Like Alma, the film is pleasant and at times moving, while still remaining lighthearted and sweet. Those looking for an introspective treatise on love and life should rewind Gondry's past films, but those open to a funny, less-probing comedy will leave the theater wanting more of the Sweded films.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the film is saying about Hollywood movies. Can a redone, amateurish 20-minute version of a movie be just as good as -- or better than -- the original? Or is the point that, in re-shooting the films with other movie fans, everyone becomes part of the films and the community? Kids: Does a movie have to be believable to be good?