Expectations are a tricky thing in movies. When you look forward to a film based on everything from premise and director to music and cast you can usually be setting yourself up for a fall. Sadly this is the case for Michel Gondry's latest. Not for a second would I describe it as a bad film, its way too damn cute for that, but because of a very weak plot, it is the first disappointment of the year.
The likeable Mike (Mos Def) is left in charge of the local video store as its owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), tries to raise money to keep it open. Things get worse for the store thanks to the hapless Jerry (Jack Black) erasing all the VHS. Jerry and Mike then set out to 'swede' (remake) the entire cataologue on a low to no budget with only their, sometimes poor, recollection of the original.
The 'sweding' of the films is by far and away the biggest attraction of this film. The first and longest being a perfectly muddled version of Ghostbusters complete with lines in the wrong place and an inspired alternative main song. Unfortunately there isn't enough story to grab you by the balls when the remaking stops. It almost seems like Gondry needed an excuse to play with tinsel and card again as the subplots come and go without any explaination. The central plot of 'raising money to save the store!' is a little cliche too, even in his capable hands.
It has so much heart that every negative word I write makes me cry a little inside. It does fly along quickly and the central pair of Mos and Jack make a great twosome. Also good support comes from the wonderfully eclectic townsfolk, all a little backward but lovingly naive. If only the audience could feel as much for the little store as the people in the film do. The finale is still touching considering at no point are you fully absorbed into the world. Perhaps it'll be a grower that the more you see the more you care about it. I think I'm just wishfully thinking though because I wanted so much from this little film.