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Be Kind Rewind in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Be Kind Rewind

Jack Black • Danny Glover • Mos Def • Melonie Diaz
DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry

Jerry [Black] and Mike [Mos Def] are two childhood friends who are trying to make ends meet. Mike lives and works at the Be Kind Rewind video store, owned by Mr. Fletcher [Glover] who insists it’s the exact spot where legendary jazz artist Fats Waller was born. When Fletcher goes on a trip to commemorate Fats’ death, Jerry unintentionally erases all the tapes in the store, but he and Mike devise a creative way to satisfy the store’s few loyal customers, by ‘sweding’ the movies, ie: re-creating and re-filming every movie they decide to rent.

U.S. RELEASE: February 20 2008, Nationwide • Rated: PG-13


“To me it is funny put two characters into an impossible situation, and they use the most absurd solution. Because it’s so absurd it succeeds against all expectations. More important than that, I’ve always had this philosophy that people could enjoy better movies if they made them themselves, because they’re in them. There is something about building something and then enjoying it, and I think people forget about that because everything is already fabricated for them.”

“There was a lot of improvisation, more so than any movie I’ve ever done. Michel had all the beats down, but when he first pitched the movie, he was saying it was an improv movie. So I was prepared for that. But he had a lot more written than I think he was planning. It was clearly written by a dude who didn’t speak English, so the improv was more like translation improv!”

“Michel met me at my office in New York and we talked about the idea of doing this film. Right from his description of everything I knew I wanted to be involved, and I said, ‘I’m in.’ It’s the story about this guy who has this institution within the community which is a video store. This video store is a repository of memories in some ways. It is one of those places where the memory of Fats Waller was major for him, major for this community in some sense, and he kept it alive.”

MELONIE DIAZ [Alma, a worker from the local cleaners who helps them make the movies]:
“I’m a huge fan of both Jack and Mos, they are amazing actors, so it was kind of surreal. Michel wrote an amazingly concise script, but I think one of his gifts as a director is that he allowed us to improv, and not always hit our mark. He’s like a little kid playing all the time. Jack is very seasoned and has been around for a very long time, so it was nerve-wracking. But Jack is super-professional, quite serious for being a comedian. I think there’s a common misconception that because you’re a comedian, you have to be funny all the time. Not true.”

GONDRY on the movies he choose to ‘swede’:
“We wanted to have the new King Kong [which starred Jack Black], and we wanted to show it on VHS and they said, ‘No, you can’t show it on VHS, you have to show it on DVD.’ And it wouldn’t work because you can’t erase a DVD, so we ‘sweded’ the 1933 version of it. I didn’t have precise rules about choosing the movies, I just wanted to have films that everybody has seen or remembers the title. Some of the films like Rush Hour 2 or Boyz N the Hood were suggested by Dave Chappelle when we were working on Block Party.

“Our King Kong was a shorter shoot (than Peter Jackson’s version). Thirty minutes to shoot this version versus six month to shoot the other one. But it was fun to be the monster for a minute, especially with the ingenious toy truck on my face. But I really liked doing Robocop. That’s my cup of tea. I love sci fi action; I always wanted to be Robocop. Doing Driving Miss Daisy was a stretch for me. That was me trying to grow; I’ve got on the dress with the worker boots, a really good look. I disguised the voice nicely. I haven’t heard from Jessica Tandy’s estate, no one has called to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ yet.”

“For a long time we didn’t know if we could get the rights to do Ghostbusters. We needed to show the artwork, and that’s where the legal problem comes in. If you want to do any spoof, you don’t have to have permission.”

“We didn’t have the rights to the Ghostbusters song at the time that we were shooting, and Michel asked if I would come up with a song that sounded like it, but was not it lyrically or rhythmically so that we couldn’t be [sued]. And I just cranked it out. ‘When you’re walking down the street and you see a little ghost, what are you gonna do? Ghostbusters!’ It was horrible, horrible. Then we got the rights to the song, so it was a waste of time, except that it still made it into the movie, because it’s funny to go from my really bad version of it to the real song.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Be Kind Rewind site
Images above © New Line Cinema
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #693, March 2008 cover

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