The Red Right Hand

You Name It, We Shoot It

Michael Gondry

Jack Black
Mos Def
Mia Farrow
Danny Glover

In the age of YouTube homemade videos and an ever growing accessibility to technology, budding young filmmakers are sprouting up everywhere; the majority of which have one starting point in common: remakes. The easiest thing to do, for your first film endeavour, is gather a bunch of friends and remake a film you all know and love. At least, that's what I did... but we'll come back to that a little later. The plot takes its time to come to complete fruition, opening on a homemade version of the life of jazz legend, Fats Waller, before fully detailing the store itself. Be Kind Rewind is a VHS rental shop housed in a dilapidated building in New Jersey, owned by Mr. Fletcher [Glover], aided by the young, impressionable Mike [Def]. In typical community-based film fashion, the whole neighbourhood is being renovated and unless Fletcher can produce a great deal of money, he will be forced to surrender the building. While away on a research trip (investigating the ways of big chain rental stores), Mike is left in charge with only one proviso, do not let Jerry into the store. Jerry [Black] is a mechanic living across the street, who is convinced that the local power plant is melting his brain. Following a failed sabotage mission, he becomes completely magnetised and accidentally erases every videotape in the store. Convinced they can trick the customers and avoid any possible trouble Mike and Jerry set out to record over the blank tapes with their own twenty minute versions. Once word catches on that the shortened 'Sweded' versions are better than the originals they find themselves making two-three films per day, whilst needing to recruit extras from the neighbourhood.

The premise is extremely simple, though not greatly original, but the way in which the parodies are executed - harnessing methods used from the silent movie era - are extremely original and memorable. The film takes obvious stabs at the film industry's big-budget elitism, soulless chain rental stores and the absurd laws surrounding minor piracy/parodying. To explain my sheer enjoyment of this film, allow me to give a rather embarrassing explanation. Back in high school I was given my first camcorder and started the simplest of flicks. Two of my friends came on board with the project and DNS Ltd was formed. One of the first (albeit spur of the moment) productions was a two minute 30's gangster scene followed by a shoddy, diabolical remake of the Star Wars trilogy. It wasn't supposed to be good or accurate, simply a fan's telling using whatever household props we could find. The final cut was about six minutes long and contained some of the worst acting ever seen. As stated, the point was never to portray anything of professional note but simply a gathering of friends passing the time by doing something different; similar to the amazingly executed Call Of Cthulhu. In addition to being one of the key points of this flick, I also believe it will be its downfall. Be Kind Rewind is a real filmmakers/film buff's film that will appeal to the budding directors and actors in all but I'm not overly sure how it will pan out with the general public. My general prediction is a sea of 5's and 6's.

The parts are well played and really flesh out an incredibly simple sequence of events but the overall effort was a little too loose and corny to completely win me over. I'm not saying the film wasn't good but it was littered with flat supporting characters and seemed to have little replay value. In addition the film isn't always laugh-out-loud funny but despite this it is filled with poignant moments and an exceptional amount of heart that continually engages the audience. The problem may lie with the implausibility or suspension of disbelief but if you are willing to look past these elements you should thoroughly enjoy yourself.

Release Date:
22nd February 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
There are truly standout moments in this feature but the biggest laughs came from two scenes in particular. The first was the Ghostbusters parody. The effects are tacky, the dialogue inaccurate but some of the ideas used are truly inspired and ingenious: to achieve a day-for-night shot, Jerry suggests using the negative setting on the camera. As expected, this inverts the colour and turns their faces green. Jerry's quick-fix is to photocopy their faces, using inverted colours. The finished product is hilarious. The second scene is just a little slapstick that plays off really well. In order to steal a projector from the West Coast Video store, Mike and Jerry are forced to break a window to get in. Not wanting to cause too much damage, Mike insists they break the front door. As it turns out there's a second security door and they have to go in via the window, breaking another two panes of glass.

Notable Characters:
Although there are plenty of memorable offerings from the supporting cast, Jack Black, takes the cake for his seemingly everlasting energy and childlike vitality. His character is a little 2D, not venturing too far from Tenacious D's JB but the driving force remains key and in the end it's the little moments that win you over. Moments such as the first magnetised experiences come to mind for the character reaction and hilarity of what breaks down to simple mime work.

Highlighted Quote:
"I'm Bill Murray, you're everyone else"

In A Few Words:
"An incredibly creative piece that offers a surprisingly heart warming look at films made for the sake of enjoyment rather than profit"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon