The latest ''Star Wars'' movie brings out the parodies, pastiches and send-ups

By Tricia Johnson
Updated July 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Box office records and fanatical devotees are all fine and good. But a pop-culture phenomenon isn’t really big until ”Weird Al” Yankovic has taken a crack at it.

By that lofty standard, The Phantom Menace has arrived: Yankovic has just released the Menace-inspired single ”The Saga Begins,” sung to the tune of Don McLean’s 1971 hit ”American Pie.” It’s the latest in the growing cottage industry of Phantom parodies. ”We’re looking for the Force to drag us all summer,” says John Ficarra, coeditor of Mad, whose July and August covers feature Menace takeoffs. ”There’s so much stuff to make fun of.” Other notable send-ups:

The Fantom Meanies
Hitting stores in July is a line of Menace-themed beanbag creatures (a la Beanie Babies), including Anteater Dirtwalker, Darth Mole, and Slobba the Mutt. ”Beanie Babies did half a billion dollars,” says Glenn Rudin, cofounder of Meanies maker the Idea Factory. ”We’d be happy with, oh, 10 percent of that. We’re not greedy.”

”The Phantom Medley”
Comedian Mark Jonathan Davis scored a radio hit two years ago with ”The Star Wars Cantina,” set to the tune of Barry Manilow’s ”Copacabana.” Now he’s done ”Medley” (available via, which borrows from 16 different tunes. Davis is planning on a holiday follow-up, ”Let’s Kill Jar Jar Binks for Christmas.”

”George Lucas in Love”
This satirical eight-minute short by ex-production exec’s assistant Joe Nussbaum sends up Wars and Shakespeare in Love by imagining Lucas as a creatively challenged film student in the 1960s. The must-see featurette has already been widely circulated among Hollywood’s executive suites — which was exactly Nussbaum’s goal. ”I knew if I was an exec who got a tape called George Lucas in Love, I’d watch it,” says Nussbaum. The strategy’s paid off: He’s gotten an offer from DreamWorks to direct the comedy Slap Her, She’s French. Talk about a Jedi mind trick.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 134 minutes
  • George Lucas