DIR/WRI: Michel Gondry • PRO: Georges Bermann, Julie Fong, Ann Ruark • DOP: Ellen Kuras • ED: Jeff Buchanan • DES: Dan Leigh • CAST: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz
This new movie from director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is another quirky, off-centre motion picture that has a life and originality all of its own. While maybe not being quite up to the task of filling out the 100-minute running time, the basic concept of the film and its obvious charms make it an entertaining, watchable and fun flick for the not-too-critical viewer.
Jerry (Jack Black) is an off-the-wall, paranoid and eccentric (to say the least), junkyard worker who believes his brain is being melted by the local power plant. He is sure this is a government conspiracy to control his every thought and brainwash his already demented mind.
While attempting to sabotage the local plant with comical stealth at night he is electrocuted by a massive pylon that proceeds to magnetize his whole body and spin him in the air for a bit too.
The next day he visits his friend Mike (Mos Def) who works in the local run-down video store that still rents out only VHS tapes. While the two are chatting in the shop Jerry inadvertently magnetizes all the videotapes by just being in the general vicinity of them and every rental movie is completely erased. This all happens while the store’s owner, played by Danny Glover, is away on a business trip.
The two friends go into a complete panic over the blanked tapes and cannot see a way out of their predicament. A loyal customer (Mia Farrow) attempts to rent out Ghostbusters and Mike tells her he will have it the next day. After phoning around to attempt to acquire the movie and coming up a blank, Mike asks Jerry to help him film their own version of Ghostbusters and try to fob it off as the real thing.
Surprisingly, the woman likes their version and word gets around about the miniscule-budgeted remake. Soon Mike and Jerry are being asked to make their own versions of a collection of classic movies as requested by customers. They call them ‘Sweded’ when completed and charge higher rental fees for them too. King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rush Hour 2 and countless others are on their remake list. They are soon using the help of local people as cast and crew. Business booms until they are handed a writ pertaining to an infringement of copyright law by a government agent, played by Sigourney Weaver, raining on their parade.
All is not lost however, when Mike, Jerry and many locals help in making a movie about the life of jazz pianist Fats Waller, who was brought up in the area. It’s not a remake so they believe they can legally get away with this one.
Although it’s probably not worthy of a second viewing, this movie provides pretty fair entertainment value and can be forgiven for being a bit sloppy and dragging in places. There are enough laugh-out-loud moments to carry the film through these dips and Jack Black is always a hoot to watch. It’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination but give it a shot and I don’t think you’ll feel let down!