Blu-ray Review: Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Having seen the trailer for this film years ago (or so it seems), I was looking forward to seeing the Mos Def/Jack Black vehicle. Unfortunately, because of it’s relatively small theatrical release, I had to wait for it to appear on home video.

Was it worth the wait, and more importantly, is it worth your purchase or rental dollars?

Find out inside.

I originally became aware of ‘Be Kind Rewind’ when I saw ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ in a small independent theater in Southern California. The premise looked interesting. Mos Def runs a VHS movie rental store, and Jack Black somehow erases every tape in the store. This forces them to ‘reshoot’ every title Def has for rent, with absolutely no budget, and no legal right to reproduce the work.

The trailer attached to Pan’s Labyrinth suffered from a common malady in Hollywood PR lately: it gave away nearly every major plot point. Despite this, I decided to catch the movie when I could.

What can I say? Mos Def kills me.

The Film

Intriguing premise aside, there’s not much to this film. I expected a comedy, with Jack Black’s typical over the top performance, and Mos Def anchoring the production with the real acting ability. What I expected and what I found were miles apart.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen nearly all of the comedy, however, there is a strong subtext dealing with Globalization and corporate America stealing our intellectual and artistic heritage. While I applaud the message, I felt the writing and direction of the film were ham-fisted in convincing the audience, and in the end I believe it failed to convey it’s original message.

Mos Def turns in a solid performance, as does Danny Glover (who it turns out is the ACTUAL owner of the video store). There are a few interesting cameos, most notably one by Sigourney Weaver, but Jack Black’s unique talents were largely unused.

Overall, the movie wasn’t bad, certainly not painful to watch, but I frequently felt I could be doing something more useful or entertaining with my time.

The Disc

The special features on the Blu-ray release APPEAR to be substantial, but when you realize that they are largely 5-10 minutes featurettes in Standard Definition, you begin to feel cheated. A director/cast commentary would have been very welcome indeed. With the static visual style of the film, the HD image is largely wasted, and regardless of using 7.1 DTS-HD audio, the sound mix is largely indistinguishable from Dolby 2.0.

Conclusion – RENT IT

The movie is worth a single watch, but repeated viewings are probably not going to happen. The Blu-ray format is largely wasted, and you could probably watch the film on standard DVD and not miss anything.


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