Thursday, January 22, 2009

Small Minds, Big Hearts (Be Kind Rewind)

I am sure that no one has ever thought of Jack Black as a leading man- type. It would be a stretch to even consider him a thinking-man's actor. We are used to seeing Jack Black starring in silly, slap-stick, slacker roles like Nacho Libre and School of Rock. Occasionally, we are surprised to see him in something like The Holiday. But our expectation is that a Jack Black film will be silly, harmless, thoughtless fun. Turn on the DVD and turn off the brain.

But, that is not the case with Be Kind Rewind. It not only surprised me, it has become one of my favorite films. Black plays Jerry Gerber, the classic conspiracy theorist/ political antagonist. Everyone is out to get him. The government is bad. Big Brother is everywhere. Jerry sees a problem around every corner. One night, while trying to sabotage an offending electrical station, Jerry became magnetized. He did not realize this until the video tapes in his friend's store started coming up blank.

Never mind that the store only carries VHS tapes. Never mind that Jerry's friend, Mike, played by Mos Def, is not competent to run the store. Never mind that Jerry is magnetized. You must go with this movie for awhile. To keep the store in business, Jerry and Mike begin to "Swede" the movies. They undertake the process of making their own low-budget productions of the movies that are damaged.

Ultimately the sweded versions of the tapes become much more popular than the originals. The store does a great business with this bootleg undertaking until the movie industry and its lawyers discover this infraction. You see, Jerry and Mike are infringing on copyrights by making their movies. All their tapes are destroyed and the store seems doomed.

I will not ruin any more of the story because everyone should watch this movie. There is a plan to save the business, which turns out to be the only way to save the neighborhood. Jerry and Mike are instrumental in the plan to save them both.

What strikes me about this film is that the two protagonists are idiots. There are no attempts to make them seem to be underestimated. They are simpletons through and through. What we quickly learn, however, is that no matter how simple a person may be, he/she can make a difference. Intelligence and complicated thinking are good, but not the most important things in life. 

Learn to care about people. Be committed to what is important. Work with other people. Value the thoughts, judgements and personalities of others, even if they are different from your own. Love everyone. Stay positive, even in the face of adversity.

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