Netflix Movie Month: "Spaceballs" Review

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Rating: PG
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: June 24, 1987
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Sci-fi

Every once in a while, a good comedy comes up that tastefully spoofs another movie while adding a touch of its own character. "Spaceballs" is one such movie, bringing viewers to a "very, very, very far away" galaxy where serious trouble is brewing. Under the expert lead of director Mel Brooks, this comedy successfully spoofs a variety of popular sci-fi movies, particularly the "Star Wars" movies, as the talented cast carries out every cheesy line in a way that sends viewers into a galaxy of laughter. Despite a few shortcomings, "Spaceballs" just might be one of the best comedies of the '80s.

The opening of the movie features a moving text reminiscent of "Star Wars," and the villains of the story are soon introduced. The fleet of Spaceballs, who hail from the planet Spaceball, plan to steal the fresh air from Druidia, a peaceful planet that protects its atmosphere with a defense shield. Leading the team of Spaceballs is the feared Dark Helmet, a character reminiscent of Darth Vader, who punishes followers by striking them between the legs with a laser beam.

Meanwhile, Princess Vespa of Druidia is about to be married to Prince Valium, the last prince in the galaxy. Realizing she does not love the prince, she runs away into her Mercedes spacecraft along with her robot companion, Dot Matrix. However, they soon fly into a bad situation when they are almost captured by the Spaceballs.

King Roland, the king of Druidia and father of Princess Vespa, sends a message to the mercenary captain, Lone Starr, and his half-dog, half-human assistant, Barf. Lone Starr and Barf, who fly around the galaxy in a Winnebago, come to the rescue, hoping to receive a reward to pay off a debt with Pizza the Hutt. After escaping the Spaceballs and crash landing on the moon, the team of travelers soon encounters Yogurt, a wise old alien who teaches Lone Starr how to use "The Schwartz."

When the Spaceballs eventually catch up to Lone Starr, they capture the princess and convince the king to give them the code to the defense shield of Druidia. When Dark Helmet begins to suck the air from the defenseless planet using a giant robot maid, only Lone Starr and "The Schwartz" can hope to save it.

Viewers can't help but cheer on the heroes, cringe at the villains and laugh at every single character in this movie. Although Mel Brooks does a standout job directing and acting in "Spaceballs," the other actors also hold their own throughout the movie. Rick Moranis creates a perfectly laughable villain while playing Dark Helmet, and he is arguably the perfect actor for the role with his short stature, high-pitched voice and comical facial expressions. John Candy brings his lighthearted humor into the role of Barf, and Bill Pullman does a standout job in his role as Lone Starr.

Although "Spaceballs" does not offer anything groundbreaking in terms of visual effects, there is a gag around every corner. Although it is primarily a parody of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, it also spoofs "Star Trek," "Planet of the Apes" and several others. Some of the humor from "Spaceballs" may seem immature, but the gags never feel forced or overdone. The movie includes plenty of slapstick humor as well as some raunchy humor. It also offers plenty of one-liners that leave fans with plenty of quotable material.

Much of the humor in "Spaceballs" is best appreciated by fans of the original "Star Wars." However, many of the jokes appeal even to those who have never seen the movies. For instance, Princess Vespa's side buns, which look similar to Princess Leia's, are shown in the movie to be no more than oversized headphones. Yoda gets a complete makeover as Yogurt, a wise-cracking alien who breaks the fourth wall by mentioning the second Spaceballs film. Overall, "Spaceballs" has a very broad appeal.

"Spaceballs" certainly has its own storyline, but it is a comedic spoof through and through. Every good movie genre needs a parody, and this one certainly does the sci-fi realm justice. From costumes and character names to the scripting and acting, this movie works hard to make viewers laugh at every turn. The music by John Morris helps to draw the movie together with mysterious, strong pieces.

It is easy to see why "Spaceballs" has remained a cult classic since the 1980s. Although some of the humor is a little silly, there are enough clever jokes, references and characters to make this movie well worth watching. "Spaceballs" is certainly one of Mel Brooks' best films, and its timeless appeal ensures that it is a fan favorite for many years to come.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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