Spaceballs (1987) — Spaceballs the Review!

“What? You went over my helmet?”

Justin’s rating: Sir Punkalot (that one’s for Lance)

Justin’s review: Everybody I know has their own favorite Mel Brooks movie. Pretty much, the race is divided into four films: Young Frankenstein, History of the World Part I, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs (with Robin Hood: Men in Tights a distant fifth). I drop my non-existent hat into the Spaceballs ring, because it’s simply the funniest, most satirical, and perhaps least offensive of all Brooks’ outings.

In a plot that more or less parodies Star Wars, you have your evil race of Spaceballs led by President Skroob (Brooks) and Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) who are devising a plot to steal the air from planet Druidia for themselves. To make this happen, they attempt to kidnap the Druidia’s Princess Vespa, a cranky princess with a penchant for independence. Only space rogues Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and half-man, half-dog Barf (John Candy) are in a position to save her with their Winnebago.

The jokes in Spaceballs boil down to three categories: parodies of sci-fi films, stupid humor, and jokes about the movie industry in general. The later is my favorite by far, as Spaceballs doesn’t take itself as a film too seriously. For example, during a lightsaber duel, Dark Helmet accidentally kills one of the camera crew (but they keep on going). And in one of the best ongoing jokes, Spaceballs merchandise pops up in every form and lethality.

The dialogue is pretty witty, with the attempting-to-be-evil Dark Helmet trading coups with Lone Star in Star Warsian fashion (“So, we meet at last for the first time for the last time!”) This is perhaps Rick Moranis’ best role in his career; he is at once menacing and cheesy, short and scary, black and white. He gets that cool helmet (and even an overlarge pith helmet at one point), which scores high with the ladies.

Special effects are on par with mid-80s scifi, but considering it’s a spoof, that’s forgivable. The jokes do go by so fast that you might need to rewind to catch them all — except for the wonderfully excruciating 90-second Spaceballs One flyover.

But, in the end, it’s about family values, taking care of the dog, and trying to get away with racy jokes in a way that kids won’t quite understand (I didn’t when I saw this film in my youth). Make it part of your collection — and may the Schwartz be with you!

Didja notice?

  • Spaceballs the Toilet Paper, the Doll, the Breakfast Cereal, the Coloring Book, the T-Shirt, the Flame Thrower, the Plate, the Towel, the Video, the Sheets, the Placemat, and the Shaving Cream
  • Michael Winslow CAN get work outside of Police Academy!
  • The Planet of the Apes parody
  • Spaceball One has a circus, a zoo, and a mall
  • On the “Spaceballs: The Coloring Book,” that’s Optimus Prime from Transformers on the cover.
  • John Hurt reprises his Alien role for yet another chestburster

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