Something Strange in the Neighborhood

21 Feb

Back in the day, I fancied myself an amateur filmmaker.

I made these really bad films where I played all the parts — for example, He’s a Wonderful Salesman, a cross between Death of a Salesman and It’s a Wonderful Life, where Willy Loman is shown (by an angel named Mar-T) what life would be like if he was never born.

Of course, my sister helped, and I’ll always remember her immortal line, “I feel a breeze.”

Anyway, I thought of those movies while watching Be Kind Rewind, the new movie from the mind of Michel Gondry, the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

It’s a truly strange and random movie about two guys in Passaic, New Jersey: one, played by Mos Def, who works at a video store, and another, played by Jack Black, who hangs around the store.

One day, Black’s character is magnetized (don’t ask) and he accidentally erases all the tapes at the video store. So the two decide to recreate the movies in their own amateurish way, starting with Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2.

And these remakes — the “Sweded” versions — become so insanely popular that they have to make others — including When We Were Kings, 2001, King Kong, and Lord of the Rings.

Yes, the remakes are absurd, and the making-ofs are very amusing.

The whole film has the look of a low budget, amateur production, making it all seem very authentic.

Black and Mos Def throw themselves into their roles, and keep the tone silly. Danny Glover and Mia Farrow, of all people, fill out the cast, giving it a little “weight” and substance.

It’s probably safe to say you’ve never seen a movie quite like Be Kind Rewind, and it’s not exactly great, but it has some really inspired moments and scenes that make it worth recommending. You’ll likely never look at Ghostbusters or Boyz n the Hood the same way again.

So, I’m giving Be Kind Rewind a B.

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