Various Artists: Be Kind Rewind

Various Artists
Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind is a delightful, sprawling, overly ambitious movie whose only major grievance is its descent into overt sentimentality near its end. Yet for a film that tries re-creating roughly a dozen cinematic classics from scratch — as well as the life of jazz legend Fats Waller, who was born in the Be Kind Rewind video store long ago (at least in director Michel Gondry’s mind) — the soundtrack, thankfully, is just as creative. A majority of the songs, somewhat inexplicably, sound like Quincy Jones’ funk-lite workouts that he so often tinkered with in the late 70s. The breezy feel-good nature of these tracks suit the movie well, but composer Jean-Michel Bernard (who scored Gondry’s previous flick, 2006’s Science of Sleep) tends to have the most fun when he’s doing genre parodies: from alternate Rush Hour 2 themes (“Chinese Bamboo”) to stereotypical action orchestrations (“Little Mikey”), it’s just outright fun, especially when contrasted to Bernard’s remarkably-faithful 20s-styled piano jazz vamps. Mos Def winds up covering three Waller classics (“Your Feets Too Big”, “I Ain’t Got Nobody”, and “Ain’t Misbehavin'”), and though his delivery is a bit more casual than Wallers’, the songs work almost solely on Def’s own feel-good vibes, sounding like he’s smiling throughout every note. Toss on a track from Booker T. & the MGs (“Sunny Monday”) and Billy Preston (the sensational “Nothing From Nothing”), and you got yourself the kind of soundtrack that’s worth rewinding time and time again.

RATING 8 / 10