Just got wind of a potential sequel! Click here to learn more.
ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS–
In this week’s #52PickUp, I delve into the wild world of Mel Brooks with the 1987 comedy classic, Spaceballs.
Spaceballs (buy it here) is a wondrous spoof of many science-fiction films, especially the first two Star Wars movies (and no, not the crappy Episodes 1 and 2). It follows a few people: First- Princess Vespa of Planet Druidia, along with her Droid: Dot Matrix. Secondly, Lord Dark Helmet and President Skroob of the evil regime, Spaceballs. And finally, Captain Lone Star and his Mawg (half-man, half-dog) Barf; co-pilots of the Eagle 5 Winnebago.
When Planet Spaceball attempts to steal Planet Druidia’s air supply, it’s up Lone Star and the gang to stop them. Man I hated that line. But like Mel Brooks does in his films, I’m breaking the fourth wall and keeping it.
The film closely resembles Star Wars: Episode 4- A New Hope (Much like The Force Awakens, eh?), in basic plot. The Princess is captured by the Dark Lord and is in need of dire saving. Here comes the handsome pilot with his Canine friend… whom are hired to save her…? Wait, which one is Luke?
Ok, so the film doesn’t necessarily follow Episode 4 beat for beat (ahem, Force Awakens), but it does serve as the comedic fodder for the film. To differentiate itself from its source material, Brooks crafts the need for Planet Spaceball to steal Planet Druidia’s air supply to save their own people. Okay, so this could be alluding to Alderaan.
And Lone Star and Barf owe Pizza the Hutt– Oooooooooo! Pizza Hut! Yeah, so that joke’s a bit on the nose, but hey, can’t win them all. Anyway, they owe Pizza “a million space bucks!” In order to cover that debt, they are hired by Princess Vespa’s father to save her from the dreaded Empire.
In fact, one of the best things that Mel Brooks ripped from A New Hope was the strong female character in Princess Leia. Vespa is independent, stubborn, and kicks some serious ass especially when her hair is involved. Regardless, there are some tired tropes of the damsel in distress.
Soon, the heroes find themselves stranded trying to escape the grasp of the Spaceballs and wind up in Master Yogurt’s hidden temple. It is here that Lone Star learns of the magic force known in the galaxy as “The Schwartz.”
Will Lone Star be able to learn the Schwartz in time to defeat Dark Helmet? Only (run)time will tell.
Where/ When did I first see it?
Honestly, the first time I had seen Spaceballs was on television, namely TBS. I believe it was around 1996-97. The first time I had seen it, I fell in love with it. So the next time it aired on TBS, which was every three hours on the hour, I had recorded it. Those were the crazy days… You had to watch go to the TV Guide channel, and of course the channel which you wanted to check had just passed on the screen, so you had to wait five to eight minutes just to get that channel to scroll up on the screen again– Rant. Over.
The funny thing about it is that I had no idea the movie contained any swears at all. I just thought it was a hilarious movie. It was finally when I bought the DVD did I see it in all its full, un-cut glory.
Full Disclosure: I had seen this a year or so before Star Wars. Yup. I was a traitor. It’s like seeing Airplane before Airport— Oh. Right, no one’s seen Airport.
How Does it Hold Up?
Ok sure, some of the special effects are pretty cheesy, but most of the jokes hold up exceptionally. One of the best bits is the running gag of hocking Spaceballs merchandise. Did you know that when George Lucas read the script for Spaceballs, he laughed so hard that he offered to have his special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic to do the special effects for the film?!
In fact, the only stipulation he had regarding the film is that they couldn’t sell any products based on the movie, which is why Yogurt and the Dinks spend the entire film doing just that! The culmination of the bit is the classic scene in which Lord Helmet loses track of the heroes, only to find them again with the help of Spaceballs: The Movie.
What did I like about it and Why?
It not only broke the fourth wall, but shot it into outer space, then sucked up the pieces with MegaMaid. Between the aforementioned Golden scene, the discussion and nods to the audience, and the constant allusion to merchandise, film crew, and a sequel, this film is loaded with it. Also: “Nice dissolve.”
The referential nods to other sci-fi greats are aplenty too. From Alien, to Star Trek, and more Spaceballs not only stands on the shoulders of Star Wars, but steps on the heads of those films as well.
I’m also a major fan of its casting. Ever since I’d seen Rick Moranis in Honey I Shrunk/Blew Up the Kid, I’ve been a fan of him. In Spaceballs however, he took his likability to new heights with Dark Helmet. I mean come on, who can hate Moranis and his slapstick goofiness?
- I miss John Candy (and Rick Moranis’ acting).
- Spaceballs is my favorite Mel Brooks film.
- “Ready, Kafka” is a reference to Metamorphosis
- Bonus! “Lock one, lock, two, Loch Lomond.” Loch Lomon is a Scottish Loch. Thanks subtitles, I never knew that joke either!
Where Can You See it?
Check out Spaceballs on CanIStream.It?
What’s your favorite Breaking of the Fourth Wall moment in Spaceballs?