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Be Kind Rewind


Stars: Jack Black, Danny Glover, Mos Def, Melonie Diaz, Mia Farrow

Director: Michel Gondry

This supremely daft but frequently funny film is like an idiot's version of It's a Wonderful Life.

Be Kind Rewind is a video store in a condemned New Jersey building, purporting to be where jazz legend Fats Waller was born, and selling only outmoded VHS tapes. The manager (Glover), facing extinction, takes a break to suss out more modern DVD stores, leaving assistant Mike (Def) in charge, and warning him to keep Jerry (Black), part-time mechanic and full-time disaster area, out of the store.

Attempting to break into the local power plant (don't ask), Jerry falls victim to electrical cross-currents (we recall this used to make you lethal in old-time horror films) and gets to put HM (highly magnetised) after his name. Jerry's magnetism has soon wiped clean every tape in the shop.

Faced with a subsequent demand by the manager's snoop (Farrow) for Ghost Busters, the boys decide to make their own 20-minute version. To their amazement (and yours), it's a hit. In no time at all, queues are snaking down the road, as Mike and Jerry turn out crazy potted versions of Rush Hour 2, Driving Miss Daisy (the funniest), King King, 2001, RoboCop and more.

The cardboard capers are reminiscent of The Goodies and their Kitten Kong, and, with a nod to the real Ghost Busters, there's even a guest appearance by Sigourney Weaver as a Hollywood lawyer who orders the seizure of all the bootleg videos.

Ironically, if the film had been more slickly made, it could have been even funnier, and it's a mistake to dispense with sound at the end; the film needs it to make the most of its climax - the showing of a film about Fats Waller at which the whole town turns out. Yes, it's rough and ready all right, but chances are you'll laugh a lot. Bewilderingly rated 12A for 'one moderate sex reference' which I must have missed. Children can be safely taken.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Pathe (Focus). Colour by deluxe.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Feb 2008