Watching Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind placed me in the same state of mind that Trinculo is in when, in The Tempest, he comes across something that overwhelms his reason. "What have we here?" he wonders, "A man or a fish? Dead or alive? A fish: He smells like a fish; a very ancient and fishlike smell; a kind of not of the newest poor-John. A strange fish!" How else can I describe Be Kind Rewind than as a very strange fish? This movie has almost nothing to do with reality.
The man who gave the world the wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind directs Be Kind Rewind. The story, which was written by Gondry (and not by Charlie Kaufman), is about a video store in Passaic, New Jersey. The store only rents VHS tapes. It's located on the ground floor of the building that legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller was born in. Mos Def works in the store; Jack Black hangs around the store. Believably, the old building is about to get knocked down for a new condo. Believably, Jack is electrocuted while trying to sabotage a power plant. Unbelievably, Jack becomes magnetized. Unbelievably, his magnetized body erases all the VHS tapes in the video store. To stay in business, and to save the building Fats Waller was born in from the developers, Mos Def decides to make homemade versions of the films that were erased by Jack Black's magnetized body.
No, a human cannot be magnetized. Yes, Jack's electrocution would have killed a normal human being. No, we can never imagine Mos Def and Jack Black as best friends. None of this makes sense, none of it is bad, and none of it as impressive as Eternal Sunshine. What can we call this kind of movie? A very strange fish.