I’m sure all of you remember Spaceballs, the 1987 Mel Brooks comedy that was mainly a spoof of Star Wars but also poked fun at a multitude of other great films, and has since received “classic” status. I’m equally sure none of you remember the animated version, released in 2008 for G4 TV, animated completely in Flash (not well, I might add) and so totally unrelated to anything that made the Mel Brooks movie good that it is a mystery for the history books why Mel Brooks returned to play his characters from the movie. And produce it. And write most episodes. And the theme.
Yes, dear readers who remain in doubt, this is an actual thing that happened. And the man himself actually came back for this tripe, giving new meaning to the joke that his character Yoghurt (a parody of Yoda, of course) made in the original Spaceballs when speaking of the probability of a second adventure, calling it “Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money“. How very prescient you are, Mr. Brooks.
The jokes in this cartoon appear to consist entirely of the following categories: (1) jokes about boobs, (2) jokes about butts, (3) pop cultural references that are so lazy that they seem like some kind of forced afterthought, and (4) pretty much just more jokes designed to somehow be at the expense of women. Or at least the kind of women who aren’t fine with being identified as boobs with legs for 12-year-old boys to stimulate themselves to.
Most of the boob shots in the series are supplied by the triplets Charlene, Marlene and Darlene, two of whom were in the original movie for 10 seconds tops and one who was invented specifically for the show because I guess two pairs of poorly animated bouncing breasts just didn’t fill the quota. And no, they have absolutely no character outside of being sex objects so adding a third one was exactly 100% pointless. They only exist to give erections to their master President Skroob, still played by Brooks but much more prominent a character than in the film. I’ve always joked that Mel Brooks seemed like bit of a dirty old man due to some of the humour in his films, but this makes me outright disturbed.
However, even if we set aside the unsettlingly perverted nature in the majority of what this show has dubbed “humour”, the ultimate insult is its complete misunderstanding of the source material. Not only has it misrepresented the comedy of the original film (in that not everything was “durr hurr boobies”), but then there’s the characters. Characters that now look like deliberately ugly caricatures of their former selves, drawn out of inexplicable spite towards an honestly pretty funny film (again, folks, Brooksie was in on this).
For instance, Princess Vespa (also voiced by her original actor, Daphne Zuniga) walks around in every episode wearing nothing but a corset that covers less than the pre-adolescent demographic could allow, Barf the Mawg is tolerable though John Candy he is not, and Lone Starr looks and sounds nothing like Bill Pullman, although perhaps that’s a relief for Pullman himself. They managed to get Joan Rivers back as Dot Matrix, however. Whether that’s good or bad I’ll leave up to you.
But the greatest tragedy would have to be Dark Helmet, a character who was originally just a non-threatening Darth Vader parody as played by a dorky Rick Moranis, now turned into a Stewie Griffin-sized dwarf who is even less threatening and even more dorky, as if the joke in the movie wasn’t heavy-handed or stupid enough for viewers to wrap their heads around. I don’t know, though.
In fact, I don’t know what anyone was thinking with any of this. With all the lazy movie references that are irrelevant to Star Wars and space movies in general, the even lazier gross-out humour, and once again, the non-comprehension of the source material, this is seriously starting to feel like a Seltzer & Friedberg production. I thought Brooks’ work was supposed to be the anti-Epic Movie; not transform into it.
I can’t recommend this show to anyone, not even as a prank or as an ironically entertaining stinker like the movie Birdemic. But if you want to see classic characters go from funny and likeable to being walking punchlines for elementary school-level sex jokes as they embark on such well-thought-out “satirical” adventures as The Skroobinator, Hairy Putter and the Gopher of Fire, Spaceballs of the Caribbean, Grand Theft Starship and Watch Your Assic Park, then by all means, go pirate this crap and watch it. Long as you don’t aid them in their “search for more money” (sic).
Some who have seen Spaceballs the movie have made the criticism that it failed as a spoof since it didn’t sufficiently understand the material it was attempting to satirize, e.g. Star Wars and the culture around it. Even if I completely agreed, I’d argue it doesn’t compare to the “adaptational” treatment that they themselves received and that all is forgiven.
NOTE: I was going to post a link to the theme song and complain about the fact that these clowns couldn’t even use any of the awesome music from the movie in order to give the show ONE saving grace, but I think this trailer, which (I seriously shit you not) is about nothing but boobies, is a much better summation of everything wrong with this show: