The operative words are "Be Kind."
"Rewind" also figures, both literally and metaphorically, into Be Kind Rewind's nostalgic neighborhood video-rental shop setting (for the Blu-Ray generation, that's video as in VHS videotape) and utterly silly first-act conceit straight out of a 1980s paranormal comedy like Zapped! or Modern Problems.
But Be Kind Rewind is not only a far kinder (and, yeah, gentler) film than its 1980s predecessors, it's also writer-director Michel Gondry's sweetest and most accessible film to date, with none of the narrative convolutions and isolation of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep.
If I had to put Be Kind Rewind in a box, which is emphatically not where any Gondry film belongs, I might be tempted to call it Lars and the Real Girl by way of Bowfinger—the latter for its comic guerrilla filmmaking, but the former for its similarity of spirit, its gentle absurdism in an ode to benevolence and community togetherness.
Goodwill more than nostalgia is the prevailing sentiment. The goodwill that nutty Jerry (Jack Black) and gentle Mike (Mos Def) bring to their ludicrous scheme to save the video shop after a freak disaster wipes out its entire stock. The goodwill with which their efforts are received, and the larger goodwill ultimately occasioned by the whole business. Not least of all, the goodwill that the viewer brings, or does not bring, to the film itself.
It would be easy—far too easy—to pull Be Kind to bits; Gondry offers not the least resistance. He seems almost to relish his house-of-cards approach, so much so that the uncharmed critic might reasonably feel it a waste of breath to blow it down. I would agree. Hold your breath, let Gondry stack his cards for ...1