Mel Brooks’ comedic send-up of Star Wars, Spaceballs features Bill Pullman as renegade space pilot Lone Starr who must protect runaway bride Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), who is intent on stealing all of the air from her peaceful home world of Druidia.
I don’t think that there’s too much to say about Spaceballs other than: it’s hilarious. There ya go, thanks for reading.
Seriously though, this was one of those special films that actually had me laughing out loud, an admirable accomplishment since I can generally appreciate comedy in a film without physically laughing, grumpy guy that I am. But the gags in Spaceballs come thick and fast, quite similar to Airplane! in many ways, and nearly every single one of them hits the mark. The physical comedy is a treat, there’s some funny Brooks-brand Jewish humour and also some divine fourth wall breaking as the bad guys watch the videotape of the film that they’re currently in, taking the tape from the Mel Brooks section of the spaceship’s rental library. And of course, there’s just enough affectionate pokes at Star Wars, most noticeably its merchandising element. The comedy is constantly entertaining and the jokes are really quite clever.
Regarding the cast, they’re all game for a laugh and bring plenty of joy and energy to the movie. In particular, John Candy once again proves that he’s an excellent comedy actor, giving a great physical performance as half man/half dog Barf and Joan Rivers lends her instantly recognisable voice to “C-3P0 surrogate” Dot Matrix, delivering the zingers with style. And, of course, Mel Brooks is also in the film, playing both (you guessed it!) the President of planet Spaceball and master of “the Schwartz”, Yogurt (“The wise? The powerful? No, just plain Yogurt”).
But of course the star of the show has to be Rick Moranis; he plays Lord Helmet brilliantly, getting all the best lines, doing all the physical stuff very well and generally being an absolutely hilarious, memorable comedy character – a massive boon to the film.
I wouldn’t say that Spaceballs is perfect though, as a couple of scenes that take place outside Dark Helmet’s ship, mainly the ones that focus on the romance between Lone Starr and Princess Vespa, aren’t that good and are more or less just “breather scenes” that break up the action and make us pine for Rick Moranis to reappear.
But on the whole, this is a fine addition to the back catalogue of the insanely wonderful Mel Brooks as it actually had me laughing and is a fun spoof of Star Wars.