(The following review ran during the Sundance Film Festival, but we're re-posting it now to coincide with the film's theatrical release.)

In Passaic, New Jersey, the thrift store and video rental emporium Be Kind Rewind offers customers their choice of films to rent, if by 'choice,' you mean 'VHS only.' But while owner Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) is away, his counterman and almost-son Mike (Mos Def) lets Jerry (Jack Black) into the store, against Mr. Fletcher's instructions not to. Jerry is normally a walking disaster -- a dreamer of a mechanic, obsessed with the belief that the power plant he lives near is flooding him with radiation. A failed attempt to sabotage the power plant leaves Jerry energized and magnetized to such a degree that his mere presence wipes all of Be Kind Rewind's inventory. When loyal customer Ms. Kimberly, tasked by Mr. Fletcher to check in on the store while he's away, comes in to rent Ghostbusters, Jerry and Mike's solution to the crisis is hardly logical, but certainly inspired: Produce and shoot a replacement version of the film within 24 hours so she'll be none the wiser about the store's ruined inventory.

But Ms. Kimberly shows the film to some of her foster children, who can recognize that Jerry is not quite Bill Murray, and that Mike is not quite Ivan Reitman, and that holding the right-hand side of Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" up to the camera is not quite a special-effects shot of a demon-haunted landscape. The foster kids -- thugs and toughs to a man -- come around Be Kind Rewind the next day. But they're not mad; they're curious: "That was pretty good. What else you got?" And other customers are curious about the store's new selections -- which, it's explained, come from Sweden, which is why they cost $20 and you have to request them 24 hours in advance. ...

Written and directed by Michel Gondry, Be Kind Rewind is as much a work of creativity and passion as the re-shot, cut-in-camcorder, home-brew "Swedish Import" re-made Hollywood blockbusters that it revolves around. And, much like Jerry and Mike's re-shot versions of Driving Miss Daisy or Rush Hour or The Lion King, Be Kind Rewind is a film where the plot is less important than panache, where the lack of elegance is made up for by an excess of enthusiasm. Jerry and Mike aren't just shooting day for night; they're shooting day for night, male for female, white for black, Jerry for Jackie (Chan, that is). Aided and abetted by Alma (Melonie Diaz), an early recruit to their shooting requirements (they need a girl for Rush Hour), the store's new offerings rapidly become a sensation, as customers line up to request new films they want to see the 'Sweded' versions of and rent the rest of Jerry and Mike's oeuvre as soon as other customers bring them back. This not only makes Jerry and Mike celebrities (or, more correctly, sub-lebrities) in Passaic, but also may raise the money that Mr. Fletcher's store needs to come up to the building code and avoid being shut down. ...