If anyone has an eye for dreamy, fantastical stories, it’s French director Michel Gondry. After his work on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Science of Sleep, audiences have grown to expect a unique heartfely quirkiness from Gondry. His newest film, Be Kind Rewind, a film about two guys (Jack Black and Mos Def) who set out to remake every film in a video store after they’re accidentally erased, stays true to audience expectations.
As Gondry gained fame directing music videos, it’s no surprise that he also has an ear for music. Calling on Jon Brion for Eternal Sunshine created a perfect synthesis of film and music, and pairing Science of Sleep with pianist and composer Jean-Michel Bernard proved equally successful. In fact, Gondry must have been especially impressed with Bernard’s work, as he’s called him back to score Be Kind Rewind, and the results are as singularly enjoyable as before.
Much like the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack, the Be Kind Rewind album includes more than just the score tracks. As musician Fats Waller is featured prominently in the storyline of the film, many of his songs are included on the soundtrack - some performed by Waller himself, others performed by star Mos Def… and a few even include Gondry himself stepping in as part of the act. “Ain’t Misbehavin’” is perhaps the most enjoyable rendition on the album, performed by Mos Def and composer Bernard, but “Your Feets Too Big” and “I Ain’t Got Nobody” are also good listens (each song is included on the album twice, performed by different people).
The score itself, composed and conducted by Bernard, manages to cover numerous genres for the sake of the filmmaking process happening on screen (the perky “The Animated Lion” for The Lion King, the near-parody “Chinese Bamboo” for Rush Hour) while simultaneously maintaining a distinctly peculiar tonality reminding viewers of the underlying story.
Billy Preston’s “Nothing From Nothing” is an interesting inclusion, but fits in nicely with the flow of the album, as does the brief interlude by Jack Black, incorrectly knocking out the Ghostbusters theme: “When you’re walking down the street / and you see a little ghost / what you gonna do about Ghostbustas?” This sort of intentionally off-kilter display only serves to liven the album up and ensure listeners that while this may be a well-produced, high-quality album, there’s still enough humbleness in this composing/directing team to laugh a little at themselves.