In the week where Blu-ray finally saw off HD DVD, the studied retro charm of Gondry's VHS-based comedy seems oddly appropriate. The film focuses on Mike (Def), sole employee of Mr Fletcher (Glover) and passionately devoted to his rundown, ramshackle video rental store. With the boss away (researching DVD rental shops, as it happens), Mike is left in charge, with the instruction to keep eccentric best friend Jerry (Black) out of the store.
Fletcher's instruction, based on Jerry's less-than-normal everyday behaviour was oddly presecient as Jerry's overnight attempts to sabotage his nemesis, the power company, have left him unknowingly magnetised. He walks into the store and inadvertently wipes every last bit of Fletcher's — and Mike's — livelihood. To rectify the problem, the two decided to reshoot the affected films. Starting with Ghostbusters, goo effects and all, they find themselves the unlikely heroes of their small New Jersey town as their shambolic remakes prove more popular than the originals. So, typical Gondry flight of fancy? Or gentle attack on Hollywood's output? Quite frankly, you can make of it whatever you want, though one suspects it's the latter, particularly when Sigourney Weaver's studio lawyer attempts to wind up operations.
The main problem with the film is not so much this vague centre as the fact it's not quite as funny as you hope it's going to be. It's amusing, yes, and there's charm to spare, but this is the sort of tale to induce grins rather than split the sides, and you can't help but notice the missed opportunities. Some of the pastiches are excellent — particularly the attempts to remake Rush Hour, outtakes and all — but, aside from one moment of visual (camouflaged) genius, Gondry shows remarkable restraint and you can't help but wonder why. It'll leave you amused but you'll also be left slightly baffled.