Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Starring: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Sigourney Weaver, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Behind the counter of the Be Kind Rewind video store in Passaic, New Jersey, is a poster for the comedy Blast From The Past. Which pretty much sums up this charming, retro movie that celebrates the old fashioned values of friendship, loyalty and community spirit, through the medium of good old fashioned slapstick comedy.

For starters, Be Kind Rewind is set in a video shop, with not a new-fangled DVD in sight. The store, owned by the kindly Mr Fletcher (Danny Glover) is possibly the birthplace of jazz legend Fats Waller, and definitely due for demolition. And when Mr Fletcher goes away, leaving the shop in the care of his assistant Mike (Mos Def) and Mike's friend Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally magnetises himself while trying to sabotage the local powerplant and wipes out all the tapes… well, let's just say that business doesn't exactly boom.

Jack Black as 'Robocop' in Be Kind Rewind

But when the luckless pair hit on the idea of remaking the movies in their own inimitable, low budget style, they suddenly find themselves with a whole new clientele. After all, who wouldn't want to rent Ghost Busters remade by two daft blokes in tin foil using tinsel for laser beams? It's absolutely hilarious!

Like Mike and Jerry's features, Be Kind Rewind is a fun-filled compendium of film styles that runs the gamut from gross-out comedy to action adventure, via blaxploitation, streetwise documentary and musical, before finishing up with a heartwarming dose of It's A Wonderful Life style sentimental feelgood schmaltz. A veritable treasure trove for movie buffs, it's stuffed full with cinematic references and in-jokes, including a laudably straight-faced cameo from the star of Ghostbusters, Sigourney Weaver.

We turned down There Will Be Blood in favour of Be Kind Rewind, thinking it would be a bit of silly, undemanding light relief. But in fact we got much more than that. Combining the proud fighting spirit of When We Were Kings with the frenetic action of Rush Hour 2 and the warmth and generosity of Driving Miss Daisy, Be Kind Rewind is an endearing, eccentric and very, very funny film and well worth seeing – at the pictures or on good old fashioned VHS.

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