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  • Spaceballs
    • Spaceballs
    • Runtime:96 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-20 11:11:18
    • Director: Mel Brooks
    • Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
    • Studio:


After parodying the Western, the horror movie, the silent film and
Alfred Hitchcock, Mel Brooks now moves on to deal with science fiction.
Or rather with one particular sci-fi epic, the original Star Wars

As one might expect from Brooks's films, the plot is little more than
an excuse for a series of in-jokes. The beautiful Princess Vespa from
planet Druidia is kidnapped by the forces of the evil President Skroob,
leader of planet Spaceball in order to forcer her father, King Roland,
to hand over Druidia's air supply. The distraught Roland offers a
reward of "a million space bucks" for her safe return, and the offer is
eagerly accepted by adventurer Captain Lone Starr and his sidekick,
Barf. (I assumed this name was derived from the Cockney pronunciation
of "bath", but apparently it is American slang for "to vomit").

Although there are occasional references to other sci-fi franchises,
such as "Planet of the Apes", "Star Trek" and "Alien" (John Hurt makes
a brief cameo appearance to send up his role in that last film), the
plot and most of the characters parody those in the "Star Wars" series;
King Roland is one of the few characters without a direct equivalent in
that franchise. Princess Vespa parallels Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia,
Skroob (an anagram of "Brooks") is the Emperor Palpitine and Lone Starr
is an amalgam of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Barf, a hairy, half-man,
half-dog creature called a mawg, is the "Spaceballs" version of
Chewbacca from "Star Wars".

Some of the jokes do not really work. The adjective to describe an
inhabitant of Druidia is not (as one might expect) "Druidian", but
"Druish", an adjective coined with the sole purpose of allowing Brooks
to make a series of laboured Jewish/Druish puns. The "Force", the
mysterious energy which pervades the "Star Wars" universe, here becomes
the "Schwartz", for no known reason except perhaps as a piece of
product placement on behalf of the well-known manufacturer of herbs and

Nevertheless, the film as a whole tends to works. Brooks has chosen his
target well, although perhaps by 1987, ten years after the original
film, the idea of a "Star Wars" parody was starting to look a bit
dated. The original "Star Wars" is a reasonably good sci-fi adventure
flick, but its main defect is its tendency to take itself too
seriously. (And its legions of devotees take it even more seriously
than it takes itself- there are large numbers of people who claim, not
all of them in jest, to be followers of the "Jedi" religion).

Brooks's wit homes in on the portentousness and pretentiousness of
George Lucas's films, cutting them down to size. Thus the menacing
Darth Vader becomes the Lord Dark Helmet, who wears a similar costume
(and an even larger black coal-scuttle helmet) but underneath it all is
a weedy little man with a high-pitched voice and a penchant for playing
with dolls when he thinks nobody is looking. The slightly prissy male
robot C3-PO becomes the ultra-prissy female one Dot Matrix, whose main
preoccupation is trying to protect Vespa's virginity. Brooks's
interpretation of the "light sabre" leaves us in no doubt of the
phallic overtones of that particular concept, as well as the oedipal
overtones of that duel between Vader and Skywalker. Jabba the Hutt
becomes Pizza the Hutt, another blatant piece of product placement but
a neat pun. (Making the name of a bizarre alien race a homophone of an
ordinary English word was not Lucas's smartest idea).

Brooks's greatest challenge was probably how to parody Yoda, a
character so central to the "Star Wars" mythos that he could not
possibly be omitted. I mean, how does one satirise a creature who looks
like the bastard child of a garden gnome and a long-eared bat and who
believes English to be an object-subject-verb language and speaks it
accordingly? ("The Force you will feel!") Brooks's solution was to make
Yoda, here renamed Yoghurt and speaking with a broad Yiddish accent,
rather more normal-looking and recognisably human than he was in the
original, thus emphasising the ineffable ridiculousness of Lucas's

The film will probably not mean a great deal to those not familiar with
"Star Wars" and its sequels; they will probably see it (as my wife did)
as just a lot of actors running round being silly and making pointless
jokes. For anyone who understands all the references, however, this is
a witty and satirical parody. It should be required viewing for anyone
tempted to put down "Jedi" as their religion on the census form. 7/10

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