‘Be Kind Rewind’ the ‘True’ Story of Fats Waller

If you have already seen Be Kind Rewind then let me share my condolences. I told you not to, but nobody listens anymore. The problem is all you crazy kids and your hip-hops music and fancy phones. I remember when a movie used to cost a nickel and you got a cartoon before it even started along with the latest news. Oh the good old days of propaganda and talking soft drinks.

Seriously though, I had a little trouble reviewing Be Kind Rewind, primarily because the film you see isn’t the film you were sold in the marketing or even the synopsis, which meant I had to allude to the actual film it was or completely start from scratch. I chose neither, but am going to take this time to clear the air. Here’s New Line’s official synopsis for the film:

Jack Black stars in Be Kind Rewind, a one-of-a-kind comedy from the mind of writer/director Michel Gondry. Black stars as a lovable loser stuck in a life that’s too small for his big dreams. But when he unintentionally erases all the tapes in a video store where his best friend works, he devises a plan to satisfy the store’s few loyal customers by re-creating and re-filming every movie they decide to rent.

Here’s the kicker, Jack Black is not the star of the film, I would say Mos Def is the star if there is one and yet he isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. The second thing to take note of is that while Mos Def isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis outside of being called “best friend”, neither is Danny Glover, whose story is actually the one being told.

The idea behind Be Kind Rewind is not a funny one, it is a sentimental one shrouded by 45 minutes of initial comedy. What it boils down to is that you really shouldn’t watch the movies made by the big studios, you should make your own movies and watch those instead.

After the video store in the film is shut down by the FBI for selling bootleg copies of copyrighted work they are told they have two options 1.) Pay a shit ton of money, or 2.) Go to jail for a very, very long time. What they decide to do instead is make a movie about a jazz pianist Fats Waller.

Fats plays a part in the story because Mos Def grew up without any real family and was raised by Danny Glover. Glover, in an effort to put Mos to sleep when he was a kid, told him a fictional story of the famous pianist, a story of which Mos grew up believing and Danny never corrected him. So, when the idea to make their own movie comes up and the truth comes out they say to hell with the real story, we’ll make up our own. So, they in turn decide to tell the story of Fats in an effort to… Hmmm, I can’t really figure out what they accomplished because as far as I can tell they are all still going to have to pay a shit ton of money or go to jail and the video store that was going to be demolished because it wasn’t up to code is still broke, can’t fix anything and is still going to have to be demolished.

So, what is the true story of Fats Waller? Well, I guess the whole truth doesn’t matter so….

Fats Waller grew up in New York City but always felt like an outsider. He was part of a churchgoing family who brought him up knee deep in the Baptist Church. However for Waller life wasn’t about God, it was about music. He often imagined he was part of a group of alien invaders looking to take over the world with music. He never tried drugs, but all of the aliens in his band frequented local drug dealers to get their next fix.

Waller’s fix was food. He loved sweets and never turned down a meal. He became a popular musician playing jazz bars all across the country and earned the nickname “Filthy” thanks to his negative opinion of bathing. Rumors still persist that you can smell his stench at many of the clubs he frequented.

Waller’s career was cut short however as he died at the age of 39 due to pneumonia and the fact that he weighed over 300 pounds and drank like a fish.



Marvel and DC