Mike (Mos Def) is the sole employee of the Be Kind Rewind video hire shop, owned by Mr Fletcher (Danny Glover) who refuses to bow down to changing times and change his stock from VHS to DVD format. He has a few loyal customers like Mrs Falewicz (Mia Farrow). The shop has been condemned and is due to be demolished in 6 weeks unless Mr Fletcher can come up with $60,000 for repairs.
Mike’s best friend is Jerry (Jack Black), who is somewhat accident-prone and lives in a caravan next to an electricity power plant. Jerry is continuously concerned that the government is using the power station to send out brain controlling microwaves.
While Mr Fletcher is away Mike is placed in charge of the shop. Jerry decides it is time to sabotage the power plant, but things do not go as planned and he becomes magnetised as a result of being electrocuted. The next day when Jerry walks into Mr Fletcher’s shop, he inadvertently erases all of the videotapes in the store.
When Mrs Falewicz wants to hire the now unavailable video of Ghost Busters, Mike and Jerry decide to remake the film themselves and entice Alma (Melonie Diaz) a girl from the local dry cleaners’ shop to act as their co-star. Their version is such a hit in the neighbourhood that they set out to make more films and more money for the shop, until they are stopped by copyright lawyer Ms Lawson (Sigourney Weaver).
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
None of concern
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
There is occasional comedic violence and accidental harm. Mike and Jerry’s remake films also contain some recreated film violence but this is very obviously staged and comic when compared to the original film versions. Examples of violence include:
- On a couple of occasions, Jerry headbutts metal poles.
- When attempting to sabotage the power plant, Jerry is electrocuted with his body convulsing as it is suspended above the ground by bolts of electricity. Later Jerry complains of a bad headache and on two occasions he vomits on the ground (we see images of Jerry bending over from behind and hear him making retching noises and the sound of vomit splattering onto the ground). Jerry is also depicted urinating in the street, we see Jerry from the waist up standing between two cars with a stream of metallic looking urine running down the gutter; the urine attracts all manner of metallic debris as it runs down the gutter.
- Jerry’s magnetised body is attracted to a metal fence and light poles, causing his body to slam into them.
- Mike and Jerry have a push and shove match in the video shop involving mild wrestling and a couple of mild punches to the arm.
- On a couple of occasions, Mike hits Jerry over the head with a metal frying pan with Jerry appearing to suffer no ill effects as a result.
- Mike squirts Jerry with a fire extinguisher.
- Four rough looking gang members enter the Be Kind Rewind video shop. When one of them is denied membership by a shop assistant, he tells the shop attendant that she is ‘… real lucky we don’t beat up girls’.
- Mr Fletcher twists a gang member’s arm behind his back when the gang member begins to complain loudly in his shop; the gang member immediately apologises.
- In a recreated scene of on-screen violence a pizza is placed underneath a dead body’s head to represent blood and gore. In other recreated scenes, a car muffler is used as a machine gun with firecrackers representing gunfire and a bucket of tomato sauce (representing blood) is tipped over a woman’s head.
- Mike and Jerry use a brick to smash several glass doors in an attempt to break into a video store and steal an overhead projector. The shopkeeper confronts the pair with a large carving knife, but when he discovers Mike and Jerry he lowers the knife, and tells the pair that he doesn’t want to hurt them.
Content that may disturb children
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the scenes of violence and accidental harm described above, but there are no other scary scenes.
Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes of violence and accidental harm.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.
- Mr Fletcher, Mike and Jerry have a discussion about sexual experiences, during which Mr Fletcher tells Jerry that he can’t imagine too much action (sex) coming out of Jerry’s trailer. Mr Fletcher tells Mike and Jerry that when he had sex his ‘… balls slapped so hard he had to scrap them off the ground, and beg them to follow me home’.
- In one scene someone asks, ‘Are you masturbating?’
- In one scene Jerry is asked to kiss Wilson, Jerry’s mechanic, who is acting in one of Mike and Jerry’s films. But Jerry says, ‘Kissing my mechanic is disturbing’. Jerry also makes reference to homosexual relations with his mechanic and comments about his mechanic suing him for sexual harassment.
- While trying to steal a projector from a DVD hire shop, Mike and Jerry discover that the owner is sleeping in the hard-core porn section.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is occasional low-level substance use in this movie, including:
- Several men sit around drinking bottled beer (no intoxicated behaviour).
- Another scene depicts Mike, Jerry and Alma in a similar situation.
- In one scene a doctor gives Jerry a bottle of aspirin. Later, Jerry consumes the entire bottle and then becomes worried that he might die of an overdose. He is given a bucket of warm, salty water to drink and he rushes outside and we hear vomiting sounds.
- One scene contains a voice-over story that describes how Fats Waller likes to travel on trains rather than flying because in a train you could get drunk.
- Three women drink vodka (no-one appeared intoxicated).
- Brief image depicting Fats Waller smoking a cigar.
Nudity and sexual activity
- In one scene Jerry’s mechanic Wilson is dressed in drag. In another scene, Jerry dresses as a woman, with a dress split up the side to reveal his white boxer shorts.
- Alma wears low cut tops.
- During the filming of Boogie Night, Jerry and Alma are depicted re-enacting a sex scene, in which the two kneel fully clothed under a blanket and rub their hands over each other. During this scene Jerry says, ‘Hug, hug, kiss, kiss, I want to have sex with you, kiss, kiss’.
- In one scene, Alma accuses Mike of not wanting to kiss her; she believes that Mike is telling people that she has a moustache. Mike denies the allegation and says he’ll prove it by doing a touch test. Mike tentatively rubs his lips over Alma’s upper and lower lips at which point Alma pulls back accusing Mike of trying to kiss her, which Mike denies.
This movie contains some mild coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Be Kind Rewind, targeted at adolescents and adult viewers, is an uplifting and good-natured comedy with lots of genuine laughs.
The main messages to take home from this movie are: the importance of people discovering a passion for life by following their true calling; that the ‘little guy’ (independent artists) can be successful by persevering in the face of adversity against the ‘big guys’ (movie industry); and the importance of perseverance, hard work and commitment.
You could discuss these messages with your children as well what your family values are when it comes to criminal activity (scene in which Mike and Jerry attempt to steal an overhead projector from a DVD hire shop) and your attitudes to neighbourhood community spirit.