I watched plenty of Mel Brooks’ movies as a kid. But none more than this one.
Of all his movies, this one is the most blatant and outlandish. It was like he and his team took Star Wars, stripped it away of 90% of its essential parts, then crammed in whatever crap they could find to fit the holes. Real cars in space? Sure, why not? A quick little Alien parody? Yeah, we’ve got time! It ultimately becomes more of a parody of all of sci-fi than Star Wars specifically.
And it’s glorious.
Spaceballs let’s you know what it’s about right away. Planet Spaceball, home of the evil Spaceballs, is running out of air. In order to steal it from planet Druidia, which is protected by an atmosphere shield, they kidnap princess Vespa. To rescue her, the king hires Lonestar and his buddy Barf to save her for a million spacebucks. Sci-fi comedy adventure ensues.
This movie has that sweet factor that makes a comedy last: quotability. Pick a quote and fire away! Any gag is free game! My personal favorites are:
Who is that man?
He’s an Asshole, sir.
I know that! What’s his name?
That is his name, sir. Asshole. Major Asshole.
And his cousin?
He’s an Asshole too, sir. Gunner’s Mate, first class, Phillip Asshole
How many Assholes we got on this ship, anyhow?
*Almost everyone stands* Yo!
I knew it! I’m surrounded by assholes! Keep firing, Assholes!
I’m having trouble with the radar, sir!
Well, what’s wrong with it?
I’ve lost the bleeps, I’ve lost the sweeps, and I’ve lost the creeps!
And the what?
And of course: the entire Ludicrous Speed scene. I could go on, but I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to transcribe the entire script on here.
It’s got plenty of visual and meta gags, too. Some of these are pretty good! The camera running straight into Helmet, the characters watching Spaceballs while the movie is still being made, literally combing the desert, the list goes on. And a good majority of them are pretty good! Even when the characters straight-up look into the camera and crack wise.
Not all of them are hits, though. Sometimes, the characters will just talk for too long. Other times, they’ll just straight-up compare something to an existing thing without any comedy.
Although that marketing gag will never not be topical and hilarious.
The special effects have aged pretty well, all things considered. For a parody, it looks genuinely impressive at times! Granted, it’s hard to take a miniature of a Winnebago with wings seriously. But it looks pretty decent! Even the blue screen effects hold up! You could take some of these out of context and it would look like a genuine non-parody sci-fi movie!
It certainly helps that this movie’s got some of quality comedic actors. John Candy (RIP) and Rick Moranis on their own would be enough to carry it. But when you add George Wyner, Daphne Zuniga, and Bill Pullman, you get a cast that’s hard to beat.
It’s hard to beat Spaceballs. It’s the perfect parody movie. It has aged like a fine wine and will hold up for years to come. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to fix that.
What’ve you got to lose? Shit’s free on YouTube for some reason! And god bless ’em for it!
2 responses to “Spaceballs: Mel Brooks’ Masterpiece”
[…] Spaceballs: Mel Brooks’ Masterpiece […]
I dunno. Spaceballs always seemed to me to be trying to combine Mel Brooks’ somewhat highbrow style parody with the low(er)brow/pop culture style parody that Airplane! mastered… And the result was something of a mess. Lots of good individual bits, but the sum was less than it’s parts. Mostly because it never left you time to breathe or recover, it just kept slamming you.
But I think that goes for Mel Brooks in general… For my money, his last great film was Young Frankenstein.
If you want the perfect parody movie, for my money that would Airplane! Of course, that could be a generational thing… The genres/movies/TV it parodied were TV staples in the 70’s, and a lot of those stars appeared in Airplane! parodying themselves. Plus I was something of a disaster movie junkie/aficionado back then.
If you want a perfect SF parody, that would Battle Beyond The Stars or Galaxy Quest. Haven’t seen the former in decades, I wonder how it holds up? Probably not too bad since it’s a straight up parody of Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven.