IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH MEL BROOKS REVIEW: “Spaceballs” stars Bill Pullman (Independence Day, Lost Highway), John Candy (Splash, Plaines Trains and Automobiles), Rick Moranis (Parenthood, Little Shop of Horrors ), Daphne Zuniga (The Sure Thing, Melrose Place [TV series]), Dick Van Patten (Westworld , Freezerburn), George Wyner (The Postman, Trouble with the Curve), Michael Winslow (Police Academy, Three Crazy Jerks), Mel Brooks (Life Stinks, Putney Swope), and Joan Rivers (Iron Man 3, Serial Mom). It is directed by Mel Brooks, who also wrote it with Thomas Meehan (Annie , To Be or Not to Be) and Rohnny Graham (The Bob Crane Show [TV series], The World’s Greatest Lover). After Princess Vespa (Zuniga) runs away from her wedding, her father King Roland (Van Patten) sends two rebels Lone Starr (Pullman) and Barf (Candy) to retrieve her before she falls into the evil hands of Dark Helmet (Moranis).
“May the schwartz be with you!” Did I mean to line up this review on Star Wars day? No, I did not. But I’m glad it has. “Spaceballs” was the first Mel Brooks film that I saw growing up; in fact, it was the only Brooks film I saw until starting my first director’s marathon with him a few years ago. I recall loving it, particularly because I understood the references and was fascinated in the genre of parody. I mean, who can forget Dark Helmet, Barf, and Pizza the Hut? They’re pretty iconic. Alas, since “Spaceballs” release, we have been smashed with both a plethora of “Star Wars” movies and “Star Wars” parodies alike. The IP certainly knows how to beat a dead horse, so I was not as amused in watching “Spaceballs” this time around. That’s not to fault the feature, mind you, but for those of you who have not seen it but are engulfed in the “Star Wars” phenomenon of today, it might not appeal to you as much as it did audiences in 1987. It’s pretty crazy to see just how popular this Brooks film stands against the rest. No matter how many of his works my friends know, everyone seems to be aware of “Spaceballs.” It’s stood the test of time, and why is that? I have no clue. The story is basic, the jokes are fairly simple, and the adventure stretches itself thin. I can only guess that because it is mocking the “Star Wars” franchise it has kept itself afloat in pop culture. Good work Brooks. The movie itself has its moments. If there’s one thing I can say, the flick has some scenes that you’ll either reference or talk about to your friends. Whether it be the “I’m surrounding by assholes” bit, Yogurt’s merchandising scheme, or the fact that Joan Rivers voices a robot, you’ll walk away remembering some things. On top of that, it can be entertaining, as it shortens the “Star Wars” narrative and creates just enough of a different story to keep things interesting. Does that mean this is a gripping, engaging feature? No. The characters are caricatures, the conflicts are quickly swept under the rug, and certian plot elements are predictable. It’s what you expect from a parody, but I was at least hoping for more likability in its characters. Bill Pullman as Lone Starr is okay, John Candy’s classic, and you can’t forget Rick Moranis’ Dark Helmet, but Princess Vespa was downright annoying. She had some parts that were fine, but for the most part her character, paired with her direction, made for a less desirable female role. Yes, she’s playing the snobby rich girl, so I guess that’s her schtick, but I just didn’t care for it. For the most part, Brooks does a solid job making this feel like a “Star Wars” movie, pulling together some good visual effects (for its time) and cinematography to really add a layer to the humor. The jokes themselves are alright. I laughed at a few moments, but others fell flat. Do I expect all of them to land? Not really, though I did hope that I would not spend quite a bit of my time in silence (not laughing). Compared to my experience with this film as a kid, I’d say I had more fun back then. Children can get a kick out of this more so than the adults, with a few adult jokes sprinkled in for all families to join in on the fun, but at the end of the day, “Spaceballs” doesn’t hold up to the golden Brooks standard. I took more enjoyment from watching his other flicks in this marathon, and when you’ve got a property as big as “Star Wars” to poke fun at, that’s saying something. If you’re looking for a parody of those science fiction pictures you know and love, you’ll find some parts in this to be fun; otherwise, it’s just average. FINAL SCORE: 68%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: