Be Kind Rewind

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The new movie Be Kind Rewind offers a lot to please libertarians and everyone else.

In it, Danny Glover plays Mr. Fletcher, the elderly owner of a Passaic, NJ video store that still only stocks VHS tapes. The government claims his ancient building isn’t up to code, and unless he wants to pay $60,000 to a city-licensed contractor to fix it, they’re going to tear down the building and replace it with a condominium development. The bureaucrats helpfully suggest that Mr. Fletcher can move to a government housing project after he loses his present home.

Mr. Fletcher urgently needs to improve business, so he goes away for a few days to spy on a chain video store to figure out the secret of their success (e.g., DVD’s, lots of copies of the same movie).

While he’s gone, he leaves young Mike (Mos Def) in charge. Then Mike’s friend Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally erases all of the tapes in the store with electromagnetism.

Panicked, they do what any reasonable person would do: start recording their own 20-minute versions of the erased movies — Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, Robocop, and many more — on a VHS camcorder to satisfy customers.

The neighborhood loves their homemade versions of these movies and customers start lining up around the block — until, yes, the store is raided for its copyright violations. Our heroes protest that the movies are the unique product of their own imagination and effort, but to no avail — their movies are piled up in front of the store and then run over by a steamroller.

All of this isn’t as good as it sounds from my description — in fact, it’s much better. Be Kind Rewind might be the most delightful movie you’ll see this year. Here’s the trailer.

9:50 am on February 24, 2008