Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spaceballs

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, rambling and blogging about one of the many movies I own.  This time out, we go with Mel Brooks' classic Star Wars spoof, Spaceballs.  This is in my notes at July 17, 2016.

Ah, Spaceballs.  Mel Brooks' legendary spoof of the Star Wars saga.  Yet another one of those comedies where I didn't get more of the jokes until I was older.  I distinctly remember watching it when I was a kid, and when Lone Star starts putting the moves on Princess Vespa, it sets off Dot Matrix's "Virgin Alarm."  I remember asking my mother what a "virgin" is.  "Someone who's never been kissed," I believe was her answer.  That worked for 10-year old me. 

But it wasn't all the sex stuff.  It was still a few years before I saw Alien, so I originally didn't get it when the alien bursts out of John Hurt's chest, and Hurt mutters, "Oh, no.  Not again!"  Funny thing...ILM actually did the special effects for that segment.  They also provided lost of help in post-production, and Brooks was grateful that they were never offended. 

When it came out in 1987, many wondered if Mel Brooks was a little too late, and if Star Wars had fallen too far out of the public consciousness for a spoof to be successful.  But, here we are, almost 30 years later, and we're still talking about it. 

I've had the urge to go and re-watch it ever since the Force Awakens hype kicked in to high gear.  I have it on DVD, fished it out of a Discount Bin several years ago.  But, just the other day, I fished the Blu-Ray out of a discount bin.  I mean, it was just $5...both times.  So why not? 

And watching it again tonight, it's just amazing how well it holds up.  I mean, that was the thing with Mel Brooks movies.  Unlike the "______ Movie" spoofs that were popular around 10 years ago, where they'd just spoof popular set pieces from popular films, Brooks would go after the cliches and the conventions.  Like the opening shot.  We have the dramatic shot of the massive space cruiser, like the the shot of the Star Destroyer at the start of Star Wars, and it just goes on and on and on and on.  That's become a cliche of these space films, and Brooks goes after it mercilessly. 

Or, hell.  Even the scene where Yogurt talks about merchandising everything. "That's where the real money is made!" he says.  Well, while Star Wars was the first to do it, the 1980s was where movie studios finally realized it could be a billion dollar industry on its own.  Just brilliant. 

The plot:  the planet Spaceball has squandered their air supply, and seeks to steal the air of neighbouring planet Druidia.  So, they scheme to kidnap Princess Vespa, the daughter of the ruler of Druidia, to hold her hostage.  To rescue Vespa, the king contracts the services of Lone Star, and our adventure begins.  Lone Star, Vespa, and their companions Barf the Mawg (half-man, half-dog..."I'm my own best friend!") and the droid Dot Matrix, they soon evade the Spaceball forces led by Dark Helmet, and learn the ways of the Schwartz from Yogurt to defeat the Spaceballs. 

Of course, in addition to Brooks, it helps to have two of the biggest big-screen comics of the 1980s in the cast:  Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, and John Candy as Barf.  These guys were at the height of their comedic powers when they made this.  They are still good in this.  Moranis's portrayal of Dark Helmet, turning Darth Vader into this whiny, impetuous jerk is just hilarious. 

I'm getting too distracted checking out other things online, so I'll wrap this up.  Still funny after all these years.

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