by Jeff Meyers
So, back in February Michael Gondry's film Be Kind Rewind landed in theaters with a thud. It's total gross in the U.S was around $11 million.
The plot, as I described it in my review was:
"Mike (Mos Def) is the hard-working cashier of a dispossessed video rental shop in Passaic, N.J. Entrusted with watching the store while his boss (Danny Glover) leaves town, Mike struggles to keep his abrasive and paranoid friend Jerry (Jack Black) from driving away the store's few remaining customers. Unfortunately, Jerry becomes magnetized after attempting to sabotage the local power plant and accidentally erases every tape in the shop.
Desperate to keep the business going, the two concoct a plan to re-enact popular films with an old video camera — a process they hilariously call "Sweding." Soon, their custom-made movies are all the rage, pulling in unlikely fans (and cast members) from the surrounding neighborhood. That is, until Hollywood copyright lawyers come calling."
Taken by the wonderfully handmade versions of popular films, I was probably a bit too generous in my review of this scruffy flick. The truth is, as a whole, it really isn't that great.
But as cinematic call-to-arms to get off the couch and do something artistic or creative, I loved it. For a long time now I've felt we've become a nation of spectators rather than a nation of doers --when it comes to entertainment and the arts. Thus the shrinking interest in theater, dance, etc. Television and mass entertainment has taught us to expect perfection and heightened realism rather than homemade authenticity.
What won me over in Be Kind Rewind were the 'sweded' remakes of popular films that Jack Black and Mos Def make. Explained here...
Well, Gondry et. al encouraged audiences to create their own 'sweded' versions of films on the film's website and those efforts have been popping up on YouTube. Many are simply terrific and well-worth seeking out. Below you'll find a couple of my faves.
JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING
The Michigan Film Commission, in order to promote the state's ambitious film incentive package, should hold a 'sweding' contest, challenging local filmmakers to make sweded versions of their favorite films.
What do you think?