With Covid-19 affecting the whole planet, at times like these we can turn to cinema for a bit of relief. As a the hardest working UK script writer for hire, online screenwriting expert and UK script consultant in the business, today I’m looking back at a lovely and surprising little feel good comedy called Be Kind Rewind made in 2008.
Let’s start with the director: Michel Gondry is clearly a very talented man, with hundreds of credits on music videos, high profile adverts, documentaries and a small handful of feature films. He’s most famous for directing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I’ve only seen once, many years ago (and I must admit I wasn’t a big fan – bit I may revisit the film). Gondry, takes this film, which could have easily been a pretty formulaic daft comedy and instead, turns it into something touching and funny, and without the saccharine that the American’s usually serve up by the bucket load.
Gondry’s ‘French’ feel shines through, and I sense a little bit of ‘Louis Malle’, in the way the characters are treated and how the performances are placed front and centre and allowed time to shine through. Both lead characters (played by Jack Black and Mos Def) are mentally challenged (or a bit stupid) but thankfully, this doesn’t mean they’re turned into ‘Dumb and Dumber’, instead, the audience are expected to take these characters on their own terms.
The film delivers laughs from the off, but it isn’t just about ‘the gags and the jokes’, and the film is richer for that, instead of going for all out comedy, it has a messy sense or real people doing odd and stupid things, and asks us to takes this as fact. It’s a tight rope to walk, and a brave move by the director, but the comedy and emotion is richer for it. There’s even a sense of community often missing in films set in the USA, I felt at any minute writer/director and actor ‘John Sayles‘ might walk in the video store (maybe wanting to rent ‘Brother from Another Planet‘)
Black and Mos Def are really good, the other cast are great too, and we get little snippets of performances, or characters in the background who we get a sense of, and it’s clear that some of these background characters themselves have rich back story’s that could have been a film in themselves, and there is an attention to detail in the film, often missing from comedies.
Take the performance of Melonie Diaz, a character picked at random in dry cleaners who becomes a major character in the film. Melonie’s performance and character is a treat, and she seems very, very real. It’s a wondrous bit of acting.
The film’s plot sees the characters having to remake classic films on video, with no budget, and the key sequence is a remake of ‘Ghostbusters’ which is both funny and very clever. In real life apparently many of the films are available online to watch (I wonder if they still are over 10 years later?)
The plot builds to a sweet fairy tale ending, and the film doesn’t outstay its welcome. I think the film will improve and become richer still with more viewings and as the years pass.
I mentioned ‘Louis Malle‘, and ‘John Sayles‘ before, but this film also brings another great director to mind, ‘Be Kind Rewind’ wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Jonathan Demme’s‘ CV. The Demme who made ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Married to the Mob’, both films, like this movie; rich, odd and funny.
That’s high praise indeed.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant and freelance script writer for hire and online screenwriting expert. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org or hire him on Peopleperhour
His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.