HBO Spotlight: Be Kind Rewind

A surprisingly honest tale about connecting to the past, Be Kind Rewind tells the tale of Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) who work under Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) and have to scramble to keep their store alive while simultaneously fighting off gentrification.

This movie takes place back in that distant past when Jack Black was an enjoyable on-screen presence. His over the top personality provided a perfect foil to his quiet-talking friend played by Mos Def. The movie is it’s own brand of quirky, but it’s a really fun time. Sometimes it gets carried away with it’s goofiness, and sometimes that can distract from the real heart of the film. The only problem I really had with the film is that the catalyst for the primary problem in the story comes from impossible circumstances. You just have to accept the situation they present and then revel in their creative way the boys try to make amends for their error. Or more specifically make up for Jerry, the lovable idiot’s error.

It’s a goofy and outlandish movie with some more ridiculous moments, but all the scenes where the team is making the new movies is incredibly entertaining. It’s comical, but at its heart it’s a movie about trying to preserve a town’s history while competing against chains that threaten family businesses. They work at a VHS thrift store, while competing with the upcoming technology of DVDs and global chains, in the film it is specifically West Coast Video. Ironic, because West Coast Video went out of business a year after the film was released. Unfortunately, this is a common narrative among little video rental stores as Netflix and video streaming became the new technology.

Throughout the movie they hatch a scheme to remake a bunch of their VHS tapes. As they gain popularity, the town gets more and more involved with their business, uniting the community. Whereas Mr. Fletcher united the two boys with an oral history of the town, the younger generation united the town with their own version of recorded history: in both VHS and DVD. In another interesting twist, both versions of history were wrong. The movies and the myth were just copies, distorted over time as nostalgia always inevitably is.

There is a tender relationship between Mr. Fletcher and Mike where he looks to him as a father and in doing so all of his motivation stems out of a desire to make him proud. The most honest parts of the film come at the end, when the town unites to make an original film to honor the myth and stories that connect them together. It’s a salute to the forgotten crevices of America, and the stories that connect that town to history, regardless if they are true or not. We need myths to survive, and this film is a really poignant look at the stories a town surrounds itself around. It’s a silly movie that has a ton of heart and I won’t lie, I cried at the end.

Amy’s Recommendation: 8/10

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