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SNEAKS 2008 : 'Be Kind Rewind'

He got a tuneup and a plot idea

January 13, 2008|Susan King

INSPIRATION for movies can come from the most unusual sources. Just take Oscar-winning writer-director Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). He came up with one of the main plot points for his surreal new comedy "Be Kind Rewind," opening Feb. 22, after visiting his mechanic in Passaic, N.J.

"Be Kind Rewind" stars Jack Black as a lovable loser (imagine that) who believes the power plant next to the junkyard-auto shop where he works is frying his brain. In an attempt to sabotage the power plant, the facility magnetizes him.

Visiting a friend (Mos Def) who works at a struggling video store, Black's new magnetism erases all of the videotapes. When the store's only loyal customer (Mia Farrow) wants to rent "Ghostbusters," the two decide to re-create the movie for her to keep her business. Soon enough, the entire neighborhood wants these "reenvisioned" movie titles.

So what does mechanic Irv Gooch have to do with a story about amateurs remaking popular films? Turns out his auto shop, A+ Automotive, is next to a power plant. "I got the idea for how the tapes will get erased," the French-born Gondry says.

Not only is A+ Automotive featured in "Be Kind," the beanpole-thin Gooch has a substantial part as Wilson, a mechanic who becomes one of the actors in the homemade movies. "He worked on 'Eternal Sunshine' and a lot of my videos," Gondry says. And shooting in Passaic was ideal. "In a radius of half a mile, we could walk from place to place. And the community! There were Polish and Spanish. . . . It was a great mix."

-- Susan King

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