Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"I'm Bill Murray, You're Everybody Else."

A junkyard worker named Jerry(Jack Black) attempts to sabotage a power plant he suspects of causing his headaches, but in the process inadvertently causes his brain to become magnetized. This leads to the unintentional destruction of all the movies in the store his friend Mike(Mos Def) is looking after for his boss Mr. Fletcher(Danny Glover). In order to keep the store's one loyal customer(Mia Farrow) happy the pair re-create a long line of films including The Lion King, Rush Hour 2, Ghostbusters, When We Were Kings, Driving Miss Daisy, and Robocop, putting themselves and their townspeople into it. They become the biggest stars in their neighborhood.

Does this not sound like a very creative promising premise to you? To me it seemed like a dream come true. Not too mention it's director, Michel Gondry(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep), is one of the most innovative directors working today. Even with a great premise and director plus a great cast the film, with all it's wonder, doesn't seem to work, at least not all the way.

When the film begins we are introduced to Mike and Jerry, they are the type of lovable losers that we can identify with. We see them doing various hijinks throughout the town, but really it's hard to grasp onto anything during this first half of the film. They are setting up the story and letting you in on some important plot details, but they are not doing so in an engaging way. It seems like when Michel Gondry is forced to sit back and let the characters just talk to each other that the film really grows stale. That isn't to say that the performances are lacking, Jack Black plays himself, as usual and Mos Def does just fine. It seems to me that they are building to something, but the film isn't even sure what it wants to build towards.

Once we get to the midpoint of the film though, it really picks up. The tapes are all erased and Mike and Jerry have decided they are going to make their own movies out of the blank tapes. They start with Ghostbusters(1984). Once we see them in action the film's magic really seems to shine. This movie really is for lovers of cinema. When you know the references they are making with certain shots and costumes and such then it is all the more hilarious.

Gondry, really lets the whimsy take control and that is the point when this film really becomes something special. Their remakes really bring the community together and they become huge stars in their town, but then they are threatened that if the tapes aren't destroyed they will get sued for copyright infringement, among other things.

It seems that Gondry not only takes a nod to the films they recreate but there is an obvious Frank Capra influence on this film, especially with the ending. With Mr. Fletcher in danger of losing his building due to city regulations the whole town comes together and creates something truly wonderful.

To be honest, the second half of this film is one of the most wonderful pieces of cinema I have seen all year. It is truly a shame that Gondry couldn't let the whimsy be carried a little further into the beginning, but this isn't to say that the film shouldn't be seen.

If you are going in expecting a Jack Black comedy, don't see it. If you are going in expecting some indie masterpiece from Mr. Gondry, skip it. But if you are a fan of movies and just want to sit back and have some fun then I say this is the film for you.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Another great and fair review. I agree that the film doesn't really come to life until they begin to Swede the classic films. What really struck me as wonderful, however, was the way the whole community came together because of the DIY film and screening environment. Little else seemed to matter in the end except for the real connections between people that were made as a result of their "playing around." This speaks to the power of cinema, but it also speaks to the power of real people getting off their asses, hooking up with others, and doing something creative.