Be Kind Rewind

As gentrification threatens a shabby New Jersey video store alleged by its owner (Danny Glover) to be housed in Fats Waller’s birthplace, the store’s most buffoonish customer (Jack Black) manages to erase the entire VHS-only inventory. That leaves his buddy behind the counter (Mos Def) in the lurch when the store’s most maternally dingbatty customer (Mia Farrow) demands a rental. So the fellows launch an impromptu studio for sub-zero-budget blockbuster remakes—plus a revisionist Waller biopic which happens to unify their community. The ever-playful, willfully childish filmmaker Michel Gondry somehow has managed “Capra-corn” for the indie-DIY crowd; this might have been more efficiently realized as an episode of Family Guy, or, given its junkyard-gang glee, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Gondry’s heartwarming point is that humanity matters more than resources in the making of movies. And that movies matter. For a more elegant version of that valentine, with a better part for Mia Farrow, consult Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

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