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Spaceballs DVD cover
Spaceballs
Attribution information
Director(s)

Mel Brooks

Producer(s)

Mel Brooks

Writer(s)

Mel Brooks,
Thomas Meehan,
Ronny Graham

Starring

Mel Brooks,
Rick Moranis,
Bill Pullman,
John Candy

Production information
Distributor

MGM

Released

June 24, 1987

Run time

96 min.

Budget

$25,000,000

Spaceballs is a 1987 Star Wars satirical parody movie starring, written, and directed by Mel Brooks.

SynopsisEdit

On Planet Druidia, Princess Vespa is about to get married to Prince Valium (who is the last known prince in the galaxy, and thus they have to marry despite his characteristics). In a fit of rebellion, she runs off from the altar with her droid-in-waiting, Dot Matrix, and escapes into space.

Planet Spaceball has foolishly wasted all of its oxygen and is desperate to find more. President Skroob and his top military leader, Dark Helmet (along with his aide Colonel Sandurz), devise a plan to kidnap Princess Vespa and extort Planet Druidia into giving all of its air to Planet Spaceball. As luck would have it, they come across the fleeing princess shortly afterwards, firing a barrage of nearly-botched "warning shots" and provoking the princess to contact her father for help.

Darkhelmet

Dark Helmet playing with his dolls again

Meanwhile, Vespa's father, King Roland hires two mercenaries—Captain Lone Starr and Barf (a mawg, or man-dog halfbreed) to rescue his daughter and bring her back to the wedding. The pair, desperate for money to pay back their debts to mafia boss Pizza the Hutt, agree. They are later helped by the wise alien sage known as Yogurt and the mysterious power he possesses, called the Schwartz.

In the end, Lone Starr and Barf are able to rescue the princess, destroy the Spaceballs' spaceship, and get the Druidian air back. And at the very end Lone Starr, having found out he is a prince as well, marries Vespa. Pizza the Hutt gets locked in his car and eats himself to death. As for Skroob, Dark Helmet, and Colonel Sandurz, they survive a crash-landing on the Planet of the Apes.

Behind the scenesEdit

The main villain, Dark Helmet, is performed by Rick Moranis. Just as the movie as a whole is largely a parody of Star Wars, Helmet is an obvious take-off on the character Darth Vader, the immediate antagonist of that trilogy.

Dark Helmet looks more or less like Darth Vader, except that he is much shorter, his helmet is many times larger, he can remove his mask at will (exclaiming that he can't breathe with the mask on, as opposed to Darth Vader's mask being required for breathing), and he is wearing glasses and a necktie. When his mask is down, Dark Helmet's breathing is overly audible and he speaks in a baritone voice, but when he lifts his mask he speaks in Rick Moranis' intentionally incredulous, shrill tone. Just as Darth Vader was notorious for strangling officers, Dark Helmet was notorious for strangling Spaceballs' crotches, which, instead of killing them, leaves them so paralyzed by the pain that they have to be lifted away.

In the movie, Helmet is the Commander of the Imperious forces of the Spaceballs and commands its enormous flagship, Spaceball One (spoof up of the Executor and the Death Star, as well as spoofing the length of time it takes for the massive Imperial Star Destroyer to fly overhead in Star Wars), as well as being a master of the "downside" of the Schwartz (presumably a parody of the Dark Side of the Force).

Cultural contextEdit

The plot is deliberately evocative of fairy tales, as are the scenes on the planet Druidia. The majority of the scenes and characters are parodies of Star Wars, although it parodies other movies as well. The most notable are Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, Zardoz, Planet of the Apes, Rambo, Max Headroom, Logan's Run, and Alien (with John Hurt reprising his famous scene from that movie). The film also mocks various aspects of 1980s culture, including fast food, Star Wars action figures, and merchandising.

Some critics pointed out that since timing is the essence of comedy it was odd that Brooks should have waited ten years to spoof Star Wars, though his supporters say that he wanted to wait until the entire trilogy was available for mocking.

Pizzahutt

Pizza the Hutt.

The characters from Star Wars directly spoofed are Princess Leia Organa (Princess Vespa), Han Solo and Luke Skywalker (merged in the character of Lone Starr), Chewbacca (Barf), Darth Vader (Dark Helmet), C-3PO (Dot Matrix), Jabba the Hutt (Pizza the Hutt), Bib Fortuna or Boba Fett (Vinnie), Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi (merging in the character of Yogurt), Bail Organa (King Roland), Jawas and the Ewoks (merged to make the Dinks), Stormtroopers ("Spaceballs"), Moff Jerjerrod (Commanderette Zircon) and Grand Moff Tarkin (Colonel Sandurz), and, on a lesser note, Emperor Palpatine (President Skroob, which is an anagram of "Brooks"). The Force became the Schwartz.

The Star Wars fan film Pitching Lucas references Spaceballs during the first "pitch," in which Darth Vader is running on a treadmill that is increasing in speed. Eventually, it reaches "ludicrous speed," a speed from Spaceballs.

Spaceballs: The Animated SeriesEdit

In September 2004, a sequel to Spaceballs was announced in an interview with Mel Brooks. Brooks said he hoped to have the sequel come out some time around the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. As of June 2005 there was no evidence that a sequel was being worked on. An animated series, called Spaceballs: The TV Series, was announced. Originally scheduled to premiere on the G4 network on September 1, 2007, the show eventually premiered on the Canadian Super Channel station in early Summer 2008. Thirteen episodes aired with Mel Brooks directing, writing, and voice-acting alongside original actors Daphne Zuniga and Joan Rivers, with Tino Insana replacing the late John Candy as Barf and Rino Romano and Dee Bradley Baker voicing Lone Starr and Dark Helmet respectively. The series finally premiered on G4 on September 21, 2008 after an airing of the movie.

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