A video rental store called “Be Kind Rewind” hasn’t seen much business lately. Developers want to demolish the store, located in a rundown neighborhood in Passaic, N.J., and replace it with a condominium. The store’s owner Mr. Fletcher, played by Danny Glover, will have no choice but to move the video store to the crime-ridden projects unless he can come up with $60,000 to bring the building up to code.
Mike, played by Mos Def, is a bashful, well-meaning guy who works for Mr. Fletcher at the video store, and Jack Black reprises his standard wacky-guy role as Jerry, a paranoid junk yard worker with delusions of grandeur who also happens to be Mike’s best friend.
Jerry accidentally destroys all the videos in “Be Kind Rewind” one day while Mr. Fletcher is out of town. In a bid to save the video store from total financial ruin, Mike and Jerry quickly recreate their own versions of movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “Robocop,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Rush Hour 2.” In a miraculous turn of events, the remakes become wildly popular among neighborhood inhabitants, and soon Mike and Jerry are well on their way to saving the store.
Besides its gimmicky plot, the most distracting thing about “Be Kind Rewind” is the idea that the residents of Passaic are excited about third-rate movie knockoffs. The premise simply requires a huge suspension of disbelief. But despite this, the movie offers a surprisingly poignant portrayal of the lives and struggles of working class people.
Although the trailer implies Jack Black is the movie’s main character, diehard Jack Black fans may be disappointed to learn that Black is not the star of the movie. He shares the spotlight equally with Mos Def and Danny Glover. Frankly, Black’s role in “Be Kind Rewind” is more akin to his role as a supporting character in “High Fidelity.”
“Be Kind Rewind” often feels more like a drama than a comedy, and even with a running time of barely over 90 minutes, it eventually loses momentum and starts to drag. It can be charming at times, but movie goers should save their money and wait to see “Be Kind Rewind” when it is featured as continuous reruns on Comedy Central in a year or two.