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Jack Black, in a rare subtle, dignified performance that will surprise you...


Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Melonie Diaz, Mia Farrow

Jerry: I will shoot you!  And I know robot karate!

After being magnetized in an incident at a power plant, Jerry (Black) accidentally erases all of the cassette tapes at the video store his friend Mike (Def) works at.  In order to try to cover this mistake, the two recreate the movies with the resources they have available.  People love the so called “Sweded” versions of the movie, and business starts to boom for the store.  That is until the copyright lawyers get involved.

This is one of those movies that seems like it should be a lot more magical, charming, and enjoyable than it ends up being.  I would say that it’s Jack Black that ruins it, but it’s really not.  I’m not a big fan of his, but he does an okay job here.  Mos Def is more likable, as is Melonie Diaz.  Still, they’re not quite enough to save it.

Not that it’s a total disaster or anything.  There are some funny moments, and director Michel Gondry is always going to bring some interesting visuals to the table.  In fact, some of the tricks the characters use to recreate the movies are probably a bit too complex to be believable, but you can tell Gondry was having fun with it all.  I just wish the movie as a whole was more fun.

There’s just no real spark to the characters or the story.  It’s a good basic idea without a compelling story built around it.  Plus, there’s a little bit too much anger and arguing going on between all the characters.

It’s a watchable movie, but…well, maybe somebody should make a more charming, low-budget version of it some day.

People still rent VHS tapes?

10 – 2 for lacking a compelling story – 1.2 for the generally angry attitude of most of the characters – 1 for a lack of believability at times = 5.8