"I'm Bill Murray, you're everybody else."
- Mike (Mos Def) to Jerry (Jack Black), as they are about to make Ghostbusters
At a glance: This rough-edged fantasy about two bumbling video store employees who accidentally erase all the tapes and have to recreate the movies is a concept with unlimited comedy potential, but this angle is almost ignored. Instead the misguided focus is on community – and that doesn’t work particularly well, either.
In a run-down area of Passaic, New Jersey, fossilized video store owner Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover) still shuns DVDs in favor of a small selection of VHS tapes. He relies on neighborhood good will to scrape by, and his hero – Fats Waller, who was born in the building where his store is located – is his motivation. When the city threatens to tear down the building, Fletcher takes a fact-finding holiday, leaving the store to be minded by Mike (Mos Def) and his flaky friend Jerry (Jack Black). When Jerry accidentally erases all the tapes, the guys try to cover it up by remaking shortened, low-production versions of the movies. It’s a fantasy in the It's a Wonderful Life mode, but it’s so rough around the edges that it’s difficult to buy into it. It doesn’t help that the actual movies they make aren’t very funny or entertaining. People are divided on this film, and, after loving director Michel Gondry’s previous hilarious Human Nature, I was ready to love this – but, sadly, it didn’t amuse or move me. One thing I’ll say: I have tremendous respect for Gondry's fresh approaches, even when they don't work particularly well, and that carries me through here where others might not appreciate the effort.
"At best it's a collection of very good ideas in search of a framework, and at worst a dramatically stale film based on a terribly messy screenplay."
- Tim Brayton (Antagony & Ecstasy)