Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: Spaceballs

Synopsis: A farcical parody of many sci-fi classics, in which Planet Spaceball's President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal Planet Druidia's abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them.

Review: By the time of this film's release, Mel Brooks had already established himself as the master of the genre spoof film. But "Spaceballs" is, if not his finest hour, one of the top three efforts in his long list of satirizing comedies. And geek culture would never be the same.

Basically parodying the original Star Wars saga, but mixing in elements of other sci-fi mainstays, like "Star Trek," "Alien" and others, Brooks employs his twisted skills to skewer one of the most beloved and well-known franchises in movie history and does so masterfully. There are plenty of sight-gags and word play moments, as is expected in a Mel Brooks comedy. I especially liked all the "Spaceballs" merchandise that constantly shows up in the film. From bed sheets to toilet paper, it's one of several running gags that I never get tired of.

It features some early work by Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga, who would both move on to bigger things in the future. Here, they have a perfect chemistry, as the snobby-but-yielding Princess and the rugged-but-tender hero. I like that, even before they fall for each other, they already argue like an old married couple.

The main stars here, though, are (the late) John Candy and Rick Moranis, both of whom are staples in the world of the 80's comedy film. John Candy has some nice scenes and gets some yuks going, but it is Rick Moranis, as the evil-but-inept Lord Dark Helmet, who basically steals the show. Most of the funniest moment and lines belong to him. From playing with his "Spaceballs" dolls, to having his men (literally) combing the desert for our heroes, he proves that, even in a total farce, evil is always the more interesting and fun to watch.

Many others have tried to imitate Brooks style of comedic humor, most notably Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, but try as others might, they simply cannot compete with the master. Because the one thing that Mel Brooks comedy spoofs do, that others do not, is know when to "not go there." His humor is tactless, without ever being tasteless. "Spaceballs" remains one of Brooks best works and is certainly my personal favorite. If you love sci-fi, or if you hate it, you'll find plenty to enjoy in this film!

Rating: 3 Stars (out of 4)

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