Many a tear has been shed over gentrification's pitiless march. But no one has wept with as much ingenuity as writer-director Michel Gondry in "Be Kind Rewind." When the goodly Passaic, N.J., developers tell old Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) the city's going to tear down Be Kind Rewind, his corner video mart, to put up a nicer building, you might take a look at the cramped brown shack and wonder, "Does a store specializing in VHS rentals have any business being open in 2008?" Probably not.
But logic on any level is the last thing Gondry is worried about. It's the last thing you should worry about, too. Especially once that store becomes a makeshift film studio in whose name Mos Def and Jack Black remake Mr. Fletcher's damaged inventory. It starts with "Ghostbusters" and culminates in a flurry of no-budget round-the-clock custom-made productions - "RoboCop," "Last Tango in Paris," "King Kong," "Carrie," "Boyz N the Hood." Their rousingly bad moviemaking brings out some of Gondry's most blissful.
How this comes to pass is better left for a first-hand encounter or for a roundtable discussion at a science-fiction convention. Suffice it to say that Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Black) spring to action after Jerry demagnetizes all the videocassettes in a freak accident. Mike is minding the store while Mr. Fletcher's away and decides it'd be easier to shoot a ghetto "Ghostbusters" than buy it from the West Coast Video down the street. So with a lot of tinfoil and Mike's emergency casting ("I'm Bill Murray and you're everybody else") a craze is born.
Soon hipsters, thugs, regular folks, and Mia Farrow (having a ball playing a woman named Miss Falewicz) are lining up to order titles. And Mike, Jerry, and their quick-thinking co-conspirator Alma (the heart-meltingly wonderful Mel onie Diaz), are charging $20 rental fees for movies they claim are from Sweden. Thus their remakes are instantly called "sweded" versions, a perfect term less since it recalls the cinema of Ingmar Bergman and more because it evokes the process of assembling cheap, boxed furniture yourself. Gondry has hit upon the Ikea version of moviemaking.
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