‘Spaceballs’: Still Hilariously Funny After All This Time

SpaceballsMGM via Everett Collection

Spaceballs, Mel Brooks‘ homage to all things sci-fi related recently came out on Netflix Instant Watch and I watched it. Aside from a few dated references, it was as sidesplittingly hilarious as the day that I saw it in the theaters back in 1987. Now… I warn you. This is one of those movies that, if you bring it up to any male over the age of 35, he will start spouting line after line after line of dialogue (The Princess Bride is another one). Just ride it out if you have to. I won’t subject you to that, though.

It’s got a great cast — my favorite out of all the Brooks movies — with Bill Pullman, John Candy (rest in peace), Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, the voice of Joan Rivers and Brooks himself as a spoof of Yoda (Yogurt). The cast seemed to have genuine fun making this movie, and it shows in their exuberant, campy performances. It’s rated PG but the language is a little coarse, so watch an edited version on regular TV if you’re watching it with kids younger than 12.

One thing that I need to explain to recent teenagers about the dated references. A “Dot Matrix,” the name of Rivers’ android character, was a type of printer that was in widespread use. It moved at the speed of a typewriter on amphetamines and screeched as loudly. Heaven forbid you had to print out a paper in college at 2 in the morning. It woke up half the dorm room floor. Video cassettes were used to record and watch movies. It required a lot of rewinding and fast forwarding. The Internet was far from being widely used and cell phones were larger than phone books and mostly restricted to rich people’s cars.

Still, while the movie was hilarious, I did find myself getting into joke fatigue around three quarters of the way through this viewing. What Brooks did here was pretty much take every joke that he could think of and throw them at the wall to see what would stick. It’s nearly a non-stop barrage, and by the time you reach the Alien tribute near the ending of the movie, you might only have energy for a “heh” reaction. Then again, I think my sides were still sore from laughing too hard earlier.

So, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. I’m thrilled it’s on Netflix Instant Watch. It’s a perfect homage to our favorite Star Wars movies. Thank goodness it came out well before the prequels, though I would have been interested in seeing what Brooks came up with for Jar Jar Binks. May the Schwartz Be With You.