Undoubtedly the last great Mel Brooks movie so far, space balls is in the upper echelon of parody films. It may also be the last great parody movie in general, far above Disaster movie or even Brooks’ own Dracula: dead and in love. space balls mainly targets the star wars movies, but also shoots other great sci-fi movies, including Extraterrestrial and Planet of the Apes. It has all the tropes of the parody genre, with the usual Brooks flair at the top. those who know space balls know why this is the quintessence of parody films. Those who don’t, well, let’s look at why you should.
‘Spaceballs’: the story
space balls begins on the planet Druidia, where King Roland (Dick Van Patten) intends to marry his daughter, Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), the perpetually yawning and drowsy Prince Valium (Jim J. Bullock). Meanwhile, the leader of neighboring planet Spaceball, President Skroob (Mel Brooks), hatches a plan to steal Druidia’s cool air, having used up nearly all of his own. The plan is to send Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to kidnap the princess. She, however, fled the planet with her trusty droid Dot Matrix (Joan Rivers). King Roland hires the mercenary Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick Barf (John Candy), a mog (half-man, half-dog) to find them, which they do, but when their Winnebago spaceship runs out of fuel, they crash-land on the desert moon Vega. After fainting from walking in the desert, the group are rescued by the little robed alien Dinks and taken to a cave where they meet the wise Yogurt (Mel Brooks), who teaches Lone Starr the mystical power of ” Schwartz”. Unfortunately, Dark Helmet finds them and captures Vespa, who reveals the code to open Druidia’s shield after being threatened with an inversion of her nose. With this information in hand, Skroob gives the order to transform his ship Spaceball one in Mega maid, who begins sucking all the cool air out of Druidia. But Lone Starr saves the day, saving Vespa and Dot, defeating Dark Helmet in a showdown with Schwartz, and reversing the Mega maid vacuum to return the air to the planet. Cue the happy ending, where it is revealed that Lone Starr is actually a prince, and as such is free to marry Princess Vespa, the two grew closer over the course of space balls.
“Spaceballs”: the fruit at hand
There’s no denying that Brooks is having fun with the cheap laughs of space balls. Some may even say that Brooks should be above this, clearly forgetting how much the most memorable scene in his classic Blazing Saddles is a group of cowboys sitting around a campfire, eating beans and farting. space balls starts off innocently enough, with a swipe of Spaceball onemirroring the appearance of the Imperial Star Destroyer at the start of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, except the ship goes on and on. From there, it’s a veritable cornucopia of corniness. The introduction of space gangster Pizza the Hutt (Dom DeLuise). The absurdly large helmet of the Darth Vader-like Dark Helmet. The entire deck crew with the last name “Asshole”, prompting Dark Helmet’s immortal phrase “I’m surrounded by motherfuckers!” Soldiers scouring the desert for clues… with a big plastic comb, only doing little better than the two black soldiers using the big afro (“We didn’t find shit!). Ridiculous speed. Princess Leia from Vespa – like buns like headphones. Brooks knows that the unsubtle joke is still a joke, putting the need for a laugh above the need for anything nerd.
‘Spaceballs’: the genius of Brooks
Yet among the gags and jokes in space balls, Brooks weaves in moments of comedic genius that only one with the deft touch of a master of comedy is capable of. There’s the actor’s unexpected cameo injured johnhaving dinner in a space cafeteria with friends when an alien shoots out of his chest, prompting Hurt to shout “oh no, not again”, a very amusing reminder of the actor’s disappearance in Extraterrestrial (but at least this alien puts on a top hat and dances). It’s a meta joke made funnier by its randomness, but there are two specific moments in space balls which make an even better argument for Brooks’ talent. The first is in the cave with Yogurt, where it shows the wide range of space balls merchandise, a hilarious exaggeration of the scope of star wars merchandise. There’s Spaceballs: The T-Shirt; Spaceballs: The Yogurt Doll; Spaceballs: breakfast cereals; and even Spaceballs: The Flamethrower. Even better, merchandise continues to appear randomly throughout the movie, which ties into second moment: Spaceballs: The Movie on VHS (hey, kids – VHS was almost like streaming a movie, except tactile with an infuriating need to rewind). After passing Lone Starr’s “Eagle-5” Winnebago ship, Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz (george wyner) watch the VHS copy of the movie – the movie they’re in the middle of – to reunite with Starr and Vespa, which leads to a very Abbott and Costello little in between about what they’re watching (“You’re watching now, sir.”).
‘Spaceballs’: the legacy
While space balls received mixed reviews upon its release, the ensuing years have seen a deeper appreciation for the film, beyond its status as a cult classic. The appearance of movie posters for a space balls following, Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Moneybecame international news in 2016, with the positive and hopeful reaction that it was true (it wasn’t) proof of its popularity. Steven Spielbergit is Loan player one has the Eagle-5 in the background of Aech (Lena Waithe) garage, grateful space balls‘ presence in pop culture. Interesting way, space balls would also unwittingly (or perhaps intentionally) predict environmental concerns about air quality and the release of movies in the media within days of a theatrical release (exaggerated, yes, but still oddly prescient). space ballsultimately, is a feather in Brooks’ cap, and does for the sci-fi genre exactly what its Young Frankenstein made for horror genre, Blazing Saddles made for the western, what strong anxiety made for Hitchcock thrillers, what Silent movie made for… well, you get the point.