Jack Black plays the usual 'Jack Black type' character. The lovable goof ball who is a screwup. Here, he plays a nutcase living in a dump who is freaky paranoid about everything. His craziness gets him electrocuted and magnetized. This leads him to erasing all the video tapes in a small neighborhood video store (No DVDs! How cute...) where his friend, played by Mos Def works. One thing leads to another and they end up 'remaking' movies for customers. These remakes are quite sad, but have a pathetic charm to them that everybody seems to love them.
This was a nice throwback to films made back in the eighties where something bad happens and the funny/goofy characters have to ave the hotel/school/store from the bad guys. The effects were very lo-fi here, unlike Gondrys previous stuff. There was a really great bit with Mos Def and Jack Black sneaking into a electrical relay station and they are wearing outfits that make them virtually invisible. Very, very funny and I'd hate to find out it was a CGI effect because it looked so goofy and funny, it just couldn't be.
Jack Black and Mos Def really work well together. As Rapper actors go, Mos Def has slowly become the better of the bunch. As long as he doesn't start doing shit films like Ice Cube and Ice T and the others have all done (Soul Plane? What the fuck is wrong with you Snoop Dog?!), he should be OK. Danny Glover, as always, does a fantastic part as the Video Store owner. His 'Vacation' which turns out to be him scooping out a rival store for business ideas is funny and sadly true. I remember doing that sort of thing years ago when I worked at a mom and pop video store, before DVDs, and I had to go to other stores to see how many copies of the newer video they got, what videos were renting well and snag free posters for us to hang up in our store. Fun times...
Overall, I really liked this movie, but the ending was a complete let down. The good guys are always supposed to win out in the end, not fail and save the store. If there's anything I've learned from watching movies from the eighties, this is it, and this is not what happens here. It was sweet with the whole neighborhood getting in on the films and helping to save the store, but they don't save the store. I was expecting to find out that Mia Farrow's character was rich and she bailed them out, but this didn't happen. What a bummer.
Rating: B- - It loses a little because of the downer ending, but before that, it was very entertaining.
I thought this was terribly disappointing considering the great premise, cast, and director. It was flimsy and aimless and not very good. I'm starting to think that Michel Gondry just isn't a very good writer.
I was also struck by how much Slade looked like John McCain. I wonder if that was deliberate. This has been a fun season so far with all the guest stars and I hope they've got it ramping up to a great finish in the spring.