BE KIND REWIND
With Be Kind Rewind, Gondry has eccentrically devoted an entire film to the fannish hobby of sweding (which if it is not an actual word should be). What Gondry calls sweding is the art of making fannish copies, spin-offs or parodies of ones favourite films. Fans having been making their own amateur versions of or adventures in the same universe as Star Trek and Star Wars for a number of years indeed, one would hazard a guess and say that fairly much any film or series that has a fanbase has been subject to some kind of amateur filmmaking. In recent years, these have taken off in a huge way thanks to the popularity of YouTube and online networks. The most popular of these was Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989), the making of which has apparently been optioned as a film in its own right. Although, unlike the Sigourney Weaver character here, most of the copyright holders have treated these unlicensed borrowings of their creations with more liberal regard.
Michel Gondry has been conducting his own form of sweding for a number of years. (Be Kind Rewinds promotional website contains some of the sweded versions of the films we see being shot, as well a sweded version of the films trailer with Gondry playing all the roles even a sweded version of the internet itself). Although he doesnt remake other peoples films, Gondry premiered the ultra-low tech fan-made look of obvious cardboard sets and people in homemade costumes in various of his video clips, while these cardboard sets feature in the dream sequences in The Science of Sleep. One suspects that Gondry is indulging a wish fulfilment fantasy when he has this kind of rough-and-ready home-filmmaking becomes even more successful than Hollywood films. The vision here seems almost Utopian at times the people of Passaic come to prefer Jack and Mikes sweded versions more than the original films, while this is eventually seen as being so successful that they become celebrities and their efforts are able to save the shop from foreclosure. (I am sure that some of the fanboys making sweded films out on the web would give their eyeteeth for such success).
Be Kind Rewind is an amiable film to watch, if not one that is particularly outstanding. There is some fun to be had in watching Michel Gondrys zero budget re-enactments of classic films like King Kong (1933), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Rocky (1976), Ghostbusters (1984), RoboCop (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Boyz n the Hood (1991), The Lion King (1994), Men in Black (1997) and Rush Hour 2 (2001). Outside of this though, Michel Gondrys characteristically eccentric visuals are somewhat subdued. There is the charming moment with Jack Black and Mos Def climbing over the wall of the power plant and then freezing as the police come where their camouflage costumes perfectly blend into the wire mesh fence. Gondry has fun building the cardboard sets mocking up electric trains with giant fake steam-train wheels, creating what looks like some sort of giant human organ at one point, and most charmingly a cardboard piano where all the keys have been replaced by human fingers poking through from inside.
Jack Black takes the opportunity to indulge himself and clearly has a great deal of fun. Particularly amusing are the scenes with him walking along the street with magnetized head and attracting every piece of metal he passes. Ultimately though, it is a rather random performance on Blacks part where he gives the impression of having played whatever he felt like on any given day. Rapper Mos Def who first turned up in a forgettable performance as Ford Perfect in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005) redeems himself here in an amiable performance as Jack Blacks offsider. Malonie Diaz fits in appealingly alongside the two of them.
Next up for Michel Gondry was the disastrous big-screen adaptation of the masked superhero The Green Hornet (2011) and the charmingly surrealistic romantic whimsy Mood Indigo (2013). He returned to low-tech home inventions in the non-genre Microbe and Gasoline (2015).
Sweded trailer with Michel Gondry playing all of the roles here:-