Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) work in video rental shop that still has cassettes and nothing else. Jerry lives in a trailer next to an electricity sub-station and has some problem with it. He decides one night to sabotage it. In doing so, he is benignly electrocuted and thus becomes magnetised. Speaking as a qualified physicist, this is total cobblers. But anyway, on returning to the store, he stumbles around and causes all the tapes to become wiped. Meanwhile store owner Fletcher (Danny Glover) is informed that the entire building is to be demolished unless he can find a load of money in next-to-no-time. He leaves for a few days to look into saving the business and find out what these new fangled DVD things are. The plot set-up is complete.
People start to bring the tapes back complaining that they're blank. After discovering Jerry's magnetised status and with the threat of trouble if Ms Falewicz (Mia Farrow) can't have Ghostbusters, the duo decide to film it themselves. The fact that it's only 20 minutes long, stars themselves and is rubbish doesn't dissuade them, since Miss Falewicz is just some silly old bat. Another customer wants Rush Hour 2 and they require a female for an amorous scene. Alma (Melonie Diaz) who works in a drycleaners can see Hollywood beckoning and becomes embroiled. Customers decide that the remakes are preferable to the originals and word gets round.
Anything by Michel Gondry is worth watching, as you're going to be treated to a visual fantasy one way or another. However, a feature film is not a short or a pop video. The basic premise is good. People making their own versions of films on cheap video equipment and exhibiting them to anybody on YouTube etc, means a global audience is now possible when once it used to be a few friends. Gondry has taken this idea and used imaginative props to allow the characters to make creative remakes. Fans of his work will recognise many elements employed, including large photographs doubling for actual objects, scale models and daft costumes.
The problem is that Gondry doesn't seem to be able to put together a sensible cohesive narrative around the visual aspects. There are too many parts that sag and a sense of poor editing. His child-like playful visions unfortunately don't extend to a mature attitude to story, that is simplistically handled. Jack Black is given free-reign to steal any scene he's in and Mos Def plays his character like he's two sandwiches short at times. Clearly the best moments are Ghostbusters. The rest of the remakes are just rather silly brief scenes.
The film ends with a screening of a community film made by the neighbourhood about Fats Waller who may or may not have been born in the building. We don't get to see it in it's entirety as Gondry decides to whole-heartedly embrace American schmaltz in a manner that forms the icing on an embarrassing and irritating cake.
French musician-turned-film-maker who made his name directing innovative videos for the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack and The White Stripes, as well as a variety of TV commercials. His first feature film was 2001's surreal comedy Human Nature, written by Charlie Kaufman. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, co-written with Kaufman and starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, was his next project, a success that was not matched by The Science of Sleep which Gondry wrote himself. Be Kind Rewind was a charming comedy that only won cult acclaim, but superhero spoof The Green Hornet was a surprise hit in light of the grumpy reaction it received. Adaptation of cult novel Mood Indigo proved more difficult to find its audience, though coming of age yarn Microbe & Gasoline was more conventional.