With the popularity of YouTube lowering the bar for everyone, we can all become popular entertainers. Sure, there are the clever videos from JibJab.com or CollegeHumor.com, but it’s the so-so amateurs we secretly love. We love the Lonelygirl and the “Leave Britney Alone” guy, regardless of their genuine talent. Within ostensible crap, there’s a quality that’s indescribable.

That’s the mantra that “Be Kind Rewind” was created upon, but unfortunately, it only sporadically succeeds. Jack Black (“The School of Rock”) is Jerry, a Passaic, N.J., mechanic who lives in a trailer that sits frighteningly close to a power generator. Mos Def (“16 Blocks”) is Mike, a substitute video store operator and forced friend of Jerry. The guys are barely getting by in their little, crumbling community. And with developers coming in to gut their store, everything is going to be torn down. The guys have to do something.

But Jerry becomes magnetized during a botched act of vandalism, turning him into a tape eraser. Casually browsing Mike’s store, Jerry blanks every tape. Born from fear, desperation and limited budgeting, the two opt to recreate classic films as customers request them. And at a dollar a rental with their building about to be torn down, they have to pay the rent somehow. It’s a flimsy plot, but it enables some great antics.

The movie reshoots are the only places where “Rewind” shines. This film tries to embrace the lazy, crazy and sometimes uber-creative fervor of amateur film. Through the pleasure and uniqueness of watching the work of someone who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, the film sends mixed signals. But annoying, improvised dialogue and wildly inconsistent characters mar an otherwise inventive and bizarre exercise in film appreciation.

Sure, it’s kind of funny to see Jack Black piss out magnetic radiation that drags metal objects into a sewer. But what’s the point?

Mike and Jerry get popular, but they get shut down due to copyright infringement. Then the power of the people and their love for film with “pure heart” prevails. Whatever. Loose and obnoxious drama mixed with overt sentimentality ruins an otherwise great camp.

Director Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) has more expansive visual invention in his left pinky than most directors have in a $100-million budget. But his talents are squandered for a series of decent montages in which the leads re-create their favorite Hollywood hits.

“King Kong,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Rush Hour 2” and “Ghostbusters” all get two-cent tune-downs. This is where Gondry shines despite his cardboard script. Think of every cheap technique – forced perspective, old-timey quality, heads in TV sets – and you’ll appreciate Gondry’s creativity.

“Rewind” proves that sometimes it’s not the actual movies, but what we remember and re-create from them in our minds that counts. The film’s best moments are so pure and honest and loving that even crappy drama shouldn’t be able to ruin them. But unfortunately, it does.

Be Kind, Rewind

Rating:2 out of 5 stars

At Quality 16 and Showcase

New Line

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