02 March 2008

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

By the time this movie finally came out (I've been waiting months for it), I had shared the trailer with people as many times as I could and convinced them that it would be hilarious and brilliant. With a trailer so good, the movie sold itself. Since it took so long to finally release, there was just a hint of whiplash coming around too. Would the movie be as great as the trailer?

Let's talk about Michel Gondry first. Certain people love Michel Gondry's work (Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) almost irrespective of what he actually puts on film. He's got a cult following, he can solve a Rubik's Cube with his feet (sort of), and he rose from being a visionary music video director to a director with amazing visuals.

The main criticism of his movies is that the stories are fantastic and intriguing but often lacks the cohesion and plot to tie everything together. Well, the mere fact that Gondry did one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen, as well as the best concert film I've ever experienced, would endear him to me forever. I'd watch anything he does.

Especially when he does stuff like "swede" his own Be Kind Rewind trailer. The guy is smart, artistic, funny, and versatile. Who cares where his ideas come from? It's just great that Gondry has the panache and clout to do whatever he wants.

With that said, Be Kind Rewind was a huge disappointment. I mean, it was set up to be a little bit of a disappointment just by all the hype but it's kind of true when people say "everything's in the trailer." I guess, with a one trick pony, it's hard to extend it past a few minutes into a feature length movie. This is one movie I wish I knew nothing about before viewing but that was impossible. I'd already seen everything prior to going to the theatre.

It bugged me that I was bored at some parts of the movie. It surprised me that things I expected to laugh at got no reaction from me. Sure, there were lots of little details that made the experience worthwhile (hand piano keys, pizza, fan), but in the end, this is easily "the best worst movie" I've seen in awhile -- and not in the so bad it's good genre.

Entire sub-plots were wholly useless and unexplained. The whole Fats Waller thing seemed extraneous for example, as did the subsequent father-son dynamic. There was hardly any rhyme or reason to devote any screen time to motivations and storylines, yet Gondry shoehorned in some "how's" and "why's." I guess all that I wanted to see were more fake movies and the "how they did it" type footage.

It also bothered me that I had to search for a higher meaning in Be Kind Rewind to enjoy most of it. Near the end, I had convinced myself that this was an allegory for the current state of the movie business and a nostalgic clarion call for independent movies. Which it could be I guess, but then again, I haven't read anything alluding to that higher purpose.
An aside about Mos Def. As an actor, he's starting to annoy the heck out of me. He's been promisingly decent in most of his smaller parts but as soon as he gets a title role, he starts talking incredibly weird. Like ultra-nasally and whiny.

I've heard Mos talk before and while his voice is a little nasal to begin with, I feel like he's affecting this high pitched whine thing on purpose. I wanted him to get shot in 16 Blocks just so he would shut up. Oh well, Mos is one of the greatest MCs of all time and (white) people like him so I'll let it go.
In the end, it hurts me to say this but I really can't recommend Be Kind Rewind to friends because you end up walking out disappointed. Maybe, just like Mike and Jerry's versions, the movie would have been better at twenty minutes.

Oh well, what's next Michel?