Thursday, May 29, 2008


Much like I said yesterday, it’s always nice when one of your childhood favorites winds up not being a piece of crap when viewed as an adult, but sadly, unlike Stay Tuned, this one doesn’t really hold up perfectly well. It ain’t bad by any means, but way too many of the jokes are forced and labored to really make this as much of a classic as Young Frankenstein (probably the only Mel Brooks movie I watched more times as a kid) or The Producers were.

The film is a pretty overt parody of Star Wars, starring Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, and Brooks himself, in a story of the evil planet Spaceball (ruled by Brooks) that is trying to steal all the air of the nearby planet Druidia to replace all of Spaceball’s air that was wasted by pollution. Their efforts at capturing the princess (Zuniga) are thwarted, however, by the intervention of Lone Starr (Pullman), a Han Solo character who later pulls double duty by learning how to use the Schwartz from a little Yoda-like muppet named Yogurt (also Brooks). You know the rest, because frankly, even if you haven’t seen Spaceballs, and you likely have, you’ve at least seen the original Star Wars.

The movie generally works pretty well, but it does have some glaring flaws to it. The humor is obviously the main portion of the film (what with, you know, it being a comedy and all), and while the jokes work more often than not, there are a great deal many more misses than in your average Brooks movie. While he’s never really been known for his subtlety (The Producers and Blazing Saddles both rank as two of the most over-the-top comedies ever made), here he seems unable to find a joke that he’s not willing to beat into the ground. It reeks of a desperation that we shouldn’t be finding in a film by a guy that at the time had been a prominent director for almost 20 years. It’s not two surprising, then, that not long after this he’d go on to make Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It, easily the worst two films of his career.

Still, even though this was a definite slide toward what eventually became a career-threatening slump, there’s enough entertaining elements in this film to make it worth at least one viewing. If you happen to see it on TV (it should be playing on a channel near you any moment now), then by all means check it out. Just make sure to go in with some slightly lowered expectations than one is used to from such a major filmmaker.

Rating: ** ½

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