2007 Certificate: 12


The spirit of Cinema Paradiso is warmly evoked in writer/director Michel Gondry's touching tribute to the magic lantern. Mos Def and Jack Black play a couple of video store regulars forced into making dimestore remakes of modern classics such as Ghostbusters and Robocop when the shop's entire VHS stock is magnetically erased. It's best not to ask... just sit back and enjoy one of the most enchanting comedies of the year.


  • Michel Gondry


  • Jack Black

  • Mos Def

  • Danny Glover

  • Melonie Diaz


The one vital piece of advice potential cinema-goers should take with them before entering the auditorium is: Don't ask.

Disbelief is not required to be merely suspended, it has be banished to the farthest reaches of your mind if Michel Gondry's surrealist fable is to be fully enjoyed.

So don't ask why scrapyard worker Jerry (Black) is convinced a neighbouring power plant is melting his brain and he hatches plans to sabotage the generator.

Resist pat explanations when his wrecking attempt backfires and the magnetic field that he creates accidentally erases the videotapes in a local video store where his best friend Mike (Mos Def) works.

And ignore inclinations to rationalise the thinking that the mishap will cost Mike his job under grizzled video store owner Danny Glover.

Because this will almost logically allow the two friends to team up to keep the store's only loyal customer,- Mia Farrow's doddering old dear, from twigging by recreating every movie that she decides to rent.

If you manage to keep natural cynicism on a tight leash, then the life-affirming pleasures afford by this celebration of cinema are manyfold.

"I'm Bill Murray - you're everyone else," splutters Jerry as the hapless pair try to renact the CGI glories of ​Ghostbusters.

There's a joyous lack of rhyme or reason to the remakes - it's based on what customers ask for in the store - so we get everything from ​Rush Hour 2 to ​Driving Miss Daisy.

Black and Mos Def are a relentlessly compelling double act with Gondry's gently deranged script presenting them no shortage of opportunities to shine.

There's also one of the finest visual gags in recent memory, beautifully set up and majestically realised, erm, half way up a stepladder.

The lightness of touch displayed here seems beyond Hollywood's current output and the whole things spools out merrily without an ounce of cynicism.

It's a happy pill in the shape of a cinema ticket.

Tim Evans