Review: Be Kind, Rewind (2008)

Please let genius Gondry only ever direct scripts written by not him.

Gondry-as-music-video director is undeniably genius. Gondry-as-movie-buff is delightful. It’s hard not to get the impression that Petit Gondry was Sweding movies all through his childhood – and he clearly still is, within the bigger-budget framework of Be Kind, Rewind. It’s inspiring – in more ways than one, as I’ll get to in a moment – as the idea of imagination transcending resources (or lack thereof) should be.

There’s so much visual inventiveness and heart in this – but sadly, the writing doesn’t measure up. Mos Def and Jack Black are Mos Def and Jack Black – two born entertainers. And yet in this, at best they’re caricatures of themselves, and at worst they’re… worse. I found the finale sweet and quite emotional, mainly because I felt it was Gondry’s own passionate love of film encapsulated – but the lead-up to that could have been, well… The story and execution were charmingly childlike, but the writing felt juvenile. Big difference.

Contrast this with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Gondry’s mind-bendingly playful visuals were a counterpoint to Charlie Kaufman’s emotional, essentially dark story. The balance results in something more accessible, if not poignant, than either creator has managed on his own.

Beyond the film, however, something wonderful happened: Gondry inspired audiences to produce “Sweded” films of their own.