Consider this an open letter of apology to Michel Gondry.
I was more than a little bit psyched to see Mr. Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind" when it hit the big screen a little while back. Jack Black, Mos Def and Michel Gondry? I was so jazzed to see it that I even drove an hour or so up the road to do so.
And I think it was these expectations that led me to be at least slightly disappointed as I was walking out of the theater.
Now, don't get me wrong. After watching the movie again last night on DVD, I still think Gondry's flick is just goofy as goofy can get, but it's also more than a little bit magical once it manages to get going.
If you haven't seen it, take this warning from me going in: You'll almost certainly wince through the first half-hour or so. Jack Black's character vacillates between mildly retarded and thoroughly annoying. I know people have found him to be that way before, but it was a first for me (yes, I even liked "Nacho Libre.")
And the premise of "Be Kind Rewind," if you think about it for even a second, is simply ludicrous. Gondry's love of mom-and-pop stores and of Passaic, N.J., comes through clearly, but why in the world would you want to save a movie rental store where you know the owner (Danny Glover) can never get any new movies because he refuses to make the move to DVD?
So, my advice: Go ahead and rent "Be Kind Rewind" and just don't think about it too much. Once Black, Mos Def and the very charming Melonie Diaz get down to "sweding" all the tapes that Black's Jerry has managed to erase (because he's magnetized, of course), it's just tons of fun. The "Ghostbusters" and "Rush Hour 2" takes got the most attention, but my favorite moment in Gondry's flick was when Mos sheepishly explained why he felt uncomfortable sweding "Driving Miss Daisy." Just perfect.
And the last 20 or minutes or so, when the community bands together to make a movie about Fats Waller (don't ask, just watch for yourself and find out why), it morphs into probably my favorite subgenre of all: Movies about the love of movies.
So, for all its faults, I can still heartily recommend renting "Be Kind Rewind" if you're in the mood for something truly odd but often very entertaining.
Also out this week is possibly my favorite movie of all so far this year (second only to maybe "Son of Rambow," but they're pretty much tied), Patricia Riggen's "Under the Same Moon." Though I hate the phrase "putting a human face" more than just about any other in the English lexicon, I guess you could say that's what Riggen's movie manages to do with immigration.
On paper it would seem to be just too sappy for words, but the story of a 9-year-old Mexican boy (Adrian Alonso) trying to reunite with the mother (telenovela star Kate del Castillo) who had to leave him behind when she went to look for work in L.A. is just thoroughly engaging. It turns into an odd buddy-road movie of sorts when young Carlitos teams up with a laborer (Euginio Derbez) to make the journey, the movie's best stretch.
So, there you have it. Two DVD recommendations for no entry fee. Have a perfectly pleasant weekend and, if you actually go see either "The Love Guru" or "Get Smart" (which I can't bring myself to do) and want to share your opinion of them, please feel free to do so.