Michel Gondry’s loopy comedy begins from a high-concept premise; it’s fundamentally a celebration of everything that maintains a degree of local flavor. But somewhere along the way, Gondry’s paean to the low-budget DIY spirit conflates its own appeal with that of its protagonists. And the meandering
shenanigans of two nobodies from nowhere aren’t quite as appealing coming from two famous personalities working in a major movie. The two nobodies in question are Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Jack Black); the nowhere is a low-rent district of Passaic, N.J., where Mike works at the Be Kind Rewind video store. When Jerry’s exposure to high voltage causes him to erase every tape in the store, he and Mike begin recording their own quickie versions of Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2 and Driving Miss Daisy. It’s hard not to get sucked into the oddball charm of the micro-budget knockoffs. Still, celebrating the independent spirit doesn’t mean a desire for quality suddenly disappears; Gondry invites us to rewind to a time before corporate domination, while failing to realize that “corporate” and “professional” are not synonyms.