A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 74 – Spaceballs

Spaceballs – May 13th, 2010

There is a wonderful scene in this movie that is one of my favorite examples of comedy through a broken fourth wall. In order to find their quarry, the baddies check their on-board video rental location for Spaceballs: The Movie. One says to the other “But we’re still in the middle of making it!” But never fear! Movies are now instantly available as soon as they’re begun! And so they fast-forward through the beginning and stop to watch that very moment in the movie. On the screen they see what we see and a great Abbot and Costello-esque bit of dialogue follows, with one explaining to the other “We’re watching now, now.” And then they fast-forward more until they figure out where they need to go. It’s clever and yet simple at the same time. When a comedy breaks the fourth wall well, it’s one of my favorite things to watch. Monty Python does it exquisitely. Mel Brooks does it often enough for it to be a hallmark of his movies. Some movies it works better than others. This is one where it was a perfect hit, which is good, because the above example isn’t the only time they do it. It’s just my favorite.

Spaceballs is definitely more on target than Men in Tights. Maybe it’s the source material, which is rich indeed. The Star Wars movies and the other handful of science fiction that was drawn upon for this are easy to parody. And the parody that’s been created has so many excellent bits. There’s the Schwartz instead of the Force. There’s Yogurt instead of Yoda. The princess’s silly hair style? Is actually a ridiculous pair of headphones. And seriously, Dark Helmet instead of Darth Vader, with his ridiculously oversized helmet? A great part played brilliantly by Rick Moranis.

Sure, it’s an incredibly silly plot with a hole big enough to drive a Winnebago through. Princess Vespa of Druidia runs off from her own wedding, leading to her kidnapping by Dark Helmet, military leader of the Spaceballs – a group of not-so-bright types who’ve squandered their air supply. The princess’s father hires the rogueish Lonestar and his sidekick, Barf, to rescue her, and they almost manage it, but while they’re hanging out with the mysterious keeper of the Schwartz, Yogurt, she’s kidnapped again in a plot to coerce the king of Druidia into letting the Spaceballs steal Druidia’s air. Except… The whole thing hinged on Vespa leaving Druidia alone.

But why am I nitpicking a plot hole in a Mel Brooks science fiction parody? I guess it must be habit.

Anyhow, I could spend pages enumerating all the funny bits in this movie. I could quote it and explain scenes and talk about how Andy and I frequently repeat the “You’re right! And when you’re right, you’re right. And you? You’re always right!” bit. I could get all giddy that there’s even a Wilhelm scream. But it wouldn’t really communicate just how much fun this movie is. It’s got great lines. It’s got hilarious performances from people you will recognize, people you might recognize, and people you might not realize you’ve seen before. It’s just plain silly, but it’s silly in all the right ways, from every break in the fourth wall to Dark Helmet to the Planet of the Apes-reference ending.

May 13, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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