Be Kind Rewind

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Be Kind Rewind
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichel Gondry
Written byMichel Gondry
Produced by
  • Michel Gondry
  • Julie Fong
  • Georges Bermann
CinematographyEllen Kuras
Edited byJeff Buchanan
Music by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 20, 2008 (2008-01-20) (Sundance)
  • February 15, 2008 (2008-02-15) (United Kingdom)
  • February 22, 2008 (2008-02-22) (United States)
  • March 5, 2008 (2008-03-05) (France)
Running time
98 minutes[3]
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • United States[2]
Budget$20 million[4]
Box office$30.6 million[5]

Be Kind Rewind is a 2008 buddy comedy film written and directed by Michel Gondry, and starring Jack Black, Mos Def, Melonie Diaz, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Sigourney Weaver. The film first appeared on January 20, 2008 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. It was later shown at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film opened on February 22, 2008 in the United Kingdom and in North America.

The title is inspired by a phrase that was commonly displayed on video rental cassettes in America during the medium's heyday.[6]


In 2003 Passaic, New Jersey, Elroy Fletcher owns the declining "Be Kind Rewind" VHS rental store. Despite Fletcher's claims that jazz pianist Fats Waller was born there, the building is condemned as a slum and the officials give him 60 days to upgrade it to the required standards or they will demolish it to make way for high-end development.

Fletcher leaves on a trip with friends to memorialize Waller and visit rental store chains to research efficient and modernized ways of running one, leaving his only employee, Mike, to work alone. Before leaving, Fletcher cautions Mike to keep his conspiracy theorist friend, Jerry, away from the store. However, Mike misinterprets his warnings and is left confused.

After attempting to sabotage an electrical substation, believing its energy to be melting his brain, Jerry receives a shock which leaves him magnetized. When entering the store the next day, he inadvertently erases all its VHS tapes. Mike discovers the disaster and is further pressed when Miss Falewicz, an acquaintance of Fletcher, wants to rent Ghostbusters. To prevent her from reporting a problem to Fletcher, Mike comes up with an idea: as Miss Falewicz has never seen the movie, he proposes to recreate the film with cheap special effects, using himself and Jerry as the actors and hoping to fool her. They complete the movie just in time when another customer asks for Rush Hour 2. Mike and Jerry repeat their filming, enlisting the help of Alma, a local, for some of the parts. She later makes Jerry a remedy that demagnetizes him.

Word of mouth spreads through Miss Falewicz's nephew of the inadvertently hilarious results of Mike and Jerry's filming, and soon the store is seeing more requests for such movies. Mike, Jerry and Alma pretend the films came from Sweden to demand long wait times and higher costs for the rental ($20 instead of $1). To meet demand, they enlist the locals to help out in making the movies, using them as actors in their films. When Fletcher returns, intent on converting the store to a DVD rental outlet, he recognizes that they are making more money from the "sweded" films than from normal rentals, and joins in with the process. However, the success is put to a halt when two court bailiffs arrive, insisting the sweded films are copyright violations, and seize the store's assets and the tapes, which they destroy. Without any money to renovate the building, Fletcher gives up hope and reveals to Mike that he made up the connection of Fats Waller to the building. Fletcher is given a week to evacuate it before its demolition.

Jerry, with the help of the townspeople, convinces Fletcher and Mike to give one last hurrah and put together a documentary dedicated to the fake life of Fats Waller. They create Fats Waller Was Born Here.

On the day the building is scheduled for demolition, Fletcher invites all the locals to watch the final film and quietly reveals to Miss Falewicz that he gave the city official permission to go ahead with the demolition plans after the film ends. When Jerry accidentally breaks the store's TV screen trying to raise it for all to see, a nearby DVD store owner loans them his video projector, allowing them to show the movie on a cloth placed in the store's window. As their film ends, Fletcher, Mike and Jerry exit the store to find a larger crowd has gathered in the street to watch the film through the window, including the city official and wrecking crew, and they are applauded by the gathered crowd.


Melonie Diaz introducing the film at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2008


Films that were erased and recreated are referred to as having been sweded. These remakes are unedited with only a single take per scene. The tapes are described as having come from Sweden as an excuse for higher rental fees and longer wait times. Jerry fabricates the word "sweded" while arguing with Craig (Chandler Parker) and his gang.

In light of the theme of sweding, director Michel Gondry sweded a version of the trailer of the film, starring himself. On the official website, users can engage in sweding, which puts their faces on the VHS cover of a movie.[7] The Be Kind Rewind YouTube channel also encourages filmmakers to create sweded versions of popular movies.[8] A Sweded Film Festival launched in 2016 to showcase fanmade sweded films.[9]

The theme of sweding also relates to film history, in that the collectively made remakes represent social memories of films, and memories that arise through films.[10]


Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film earned $4 million in 808 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking No. 9 at the box office, and averaging $5,013 per theater.[11] As of September 21, 2008, the film had grossed $30.4 million worldwide—an estimated $11 million in the United States and Canada and $19 million in other territories.[12]


Be Kind Rewind has received mixed reviews, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 65% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 128 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Slighter and less disciplined than Gondry's previous mind-benders."[13] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 52 out of 100, based on 35 reviews.[14]

Writing in The New York Times, reviewer A. O. Scott called the film "inviting, undemanding and altogether wonderful" and added that "you'll want to see it again, or at least Swede it yourself."[15]


  1. ^ a b "'Be Kind Rewind' to New Line". May 17, 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Be Kind Rewind (BFI)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "BE KIND REWIND (12)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  4. ^ Be Kind Rewind – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information – The Numbers
  5. ^ "Be Kind, Rewind (2008)". Box Office Mojo. May 1, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Deadbolt Interview with Jack Black Archived July 20, 2011, at
  7. ^ Matheson, Whitney. USA Today. Web watch. Life section, page 3D. December 11, 2007
  8. ^ YouTube – BeKindMovie's Channel
  9. ^ Sachs, Ethan (January 31, 2021). "Homemade remakes of cinematic classics star in Sweded Film Festival". NBC News. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  10. ^ Retrieved on July 5, 2009 Kerr, John Finlay (2009) "‘Rereading’ Be Kind Rewind (USA 2008): How film history can be remapped through the social memories of popular culture", Screening the past, Issue 24
  11. ^ "Be Kind, Rewind (2008) – Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  12. ^ "Be Kind, Rewind (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 28, 2008.
  13. ^ "Be Kind Rewind – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 24, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  14. ^ "Be Kind Rewind (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  15. ^ "Times review". Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2017.

External links[edit]