As internet memes go, there’s something somewhat artificial about Sweding, especially given that, on the surface, it’s an online marketing campaign for the film Be Kind Rewind, and it exists mostly through the sheer willpower of director Michel Gondry (whose infectious enthusiasm was chronicled beautifully by Jackson West earlier this year). But Sweding has attained a true foothold in the online video realm — Snacked’s list, last updated on March 14th, lists 99 films that have received the ultra-low-budget treatment, some more than once. So, now that we’ve had a few months to let the parodies build up, which ones triumph?
Total Recall Sweded earns some great laughs with its take on the film’s once-groundbreaking effects, including the fake-bomb-head removal and the Mars mutants. Acting is dead-on as well — the lead manages a dead-on Schwarzenegger impersonation (despite being a short-ish Indian guy with a goatee). The dialogue’s about as good as the original, too.An Inconvenient Truth — Sweded takes a low-effort approach to both recreating Al Gore’s Powerpoint presentation and his facts (“if current trends continue, by the year 2000, 80 percent of babies will be born on fire”). Like the original, it offers few concrete solutions, such as what to do when the ozone layer deteriorates to the point where dragons begin terrorizing the Earth. But building awareness is the first step, I suppose.When all is said and done, though, for me the clear champion is Sweded Star Wars: A Cardboard Hope.
This charming group of British Sweders quickly distills Star Wars down to its primal elements: space battles, lightsabers and more space battles — some of which are acted out by the actors wearing X-wing costumes. And the craftsmanship of their cardboard spaceships captures everything that’s engaging about the Sweding concept — recognizably inspired by the original, even when little bits fall off during the climactic Death Star showdown.Having barely grossed half its budget at the box office, Be Kind Rewind joins the list of films with large web followings that failed to cross over to a mainstream audience. But the daffy charm of these shorts cannot be denied. Even if one wonders how long after BKR‘s DVD release the movement will continue.