'Be Kind, Rewind' His brain magnetized (don't ask), a junkyard worker inadvertently destroys all the VHS tapes in his friend Mike's rental store — and to restock the joint, resorts to producing amateur remakes.
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Arts & Life

'Be Kind, Rewind'

Cognitive Kind: Jack Black plays a junkyard worker with a magnetized brain who accidentally destroys all the tapes in his friend's video rental store. Abbot Genser/New Line Cinema hide caption

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Abbot Genser/New Line Cinema
  • Director: Michel Gondry
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

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To restock the store, Jerry and Mike (Mos Def) produce homemade versions of vintage Hollywood hits — a foil-wrapped Ghostbusters, for instance. Abbot Genser/New Line Cinema hide caption

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Abbot Genser/New Line Cinema

To restock the store, Jerry and Mike (Mos Def) produce homemade versions of vintage Hollywood hits — a foil-wrapped Ghostbusters, for instance.

Abbot Genser/New Line Cinema

Jack Black's magnetized brain — don't ask — accidentally erases a struggling, urban renewal-threatened video store's entire stock of VHS tapes early in this amiably scattered comedy, at which point Black teams up with his best bud (video clerk Mos Def) to shoot their own versions of Ghostbusters, Robocop and a few dozen other pictures.

To anyone who actually remembers VHS tapes, this may sound like a promising premise. But writer-director Michel Gondry lets the air out of it pretty quickly with a combination of over-strenuous whimsy and a gee-whiz plotline that has the store's clientele getting into the act in ways that would strike even Frank Capra as unlikely.

You have to love this flick's fondness for primitive filmmaking — by the last reel, the video store has more or less been reinvented as an old-time nickelodeon. But Gondry, who chronicled a different sort of mind-erasure in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, oddly doesn't deliver the one pleasure his premise seems to promise: He lets us see the making of the replacement films, complete with cardboard costumes and bargain-basement effects, but not the films themselves. (Though the truly devoted can at least find trailers for them — where else? — online.)