Who's in It:
Jack Black, Mos Def, Melonie Diaz, Mia Farrow, Sigourney Weaver, Danny Glover
The Basics: A video store that is, for reasons only director Michel Gondry knows, still dealing solely with VHS tapes finds itself in the bizarre situation of its stock being erased by an inadvertently magnetized Black. So the employees create homemade versions of each film in the store. And that's pretty much it.
What's the Deal? I was sort of unaware that a lot of people flat-out hate Gondry's lo-fi whimsy. They can't stand what they consider to be his cutesy preciousness and fake cardboard sets and visual self-indulgence. And even just writing that stuff makes me think I should hate him for it, too. But I don't. I think he's great. It's not like he's unaware of what he's doing. For me, it all plays out smarter than it reads, even when he's just goofing around, and his movies are about nothing pretending to be about something. And no, it's not Gondry's most coherent one, either. But asking for this guy to always make sense is sort of a fool's game anyway.
Hey, People in College: I'm sure students are already writing critical undergrad papers about the democratization of filmmaking via YouTube, the whole world ignoring laws about pirating and copyright infringement and the use of a passive technology to create active culture, etc. In fact, this movie sort of is that critical paper, minus the boredom.
Level of Jack Black Irritation, on a Scale of One to 10: Three. And it's because it fits what he's good at doing. I know that comic performers who rely on a certain skill set over and over tend to wear some folks down. Jim Carrey did so to me all through the '90s. Will Ferrell haters are growing in number. But I'm OK with Black.
The One I Wish They'd Shown on Camera: You see them remake Rush Hour 2 (better than the original by the way), Driving Miss Daisy, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ghostbusters. But it's their no-budget version of the already no-budget Gummo that I'd like really like to see.