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Spaceballs (1987)

When Mel Brooks created this typically uneven parody of Star Wars (1977) and other space adventures, he went to extreme lengths to deliver a bad pun or a cheap visual gag.

He also made significant creative and budgetary investments in payoffs that are funny almost by virtue of their eye-rolling cheesiness, like naming a character Colonel Sanderz for a single one-liner (“What’s the matter, Colonel Sanderz? Chicken?”) or taking the phrase “combing the desert” to its literal extreme. Anything for a laugh.

The Spaceballs of the title are running out of air on their home planet, so their evil leader Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis, pictured below) schemes to syphon fresh air from the peace-loving planet of Druidia.

In order to get the code to break through Druidia’s protective shield, Dark Helmet and his minions attempt to kidnap Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga, who doesn’t look Druish) and bribe her father into giving them the information.

The king, in turn, calls on rogue Han Solo-type Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man/half-dog Barf (John Candy) to rescue the princess and restore order to the universe.

This was Brooks’ last semi-decent spoof before he permanently hit the skids with films like Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993). Brooks was operating without a quality-control button on Spaceballs but still came out OK on the hit-to-miss ratio.

President Skroob Yogurt
Mel Brooks
Dark Helmet
Rick Moranis
Princess Vespa
Daphne Zuniga
Lone Starr
Bill Pullman
Barf
John Candy
King Roland
Dick Van Patten
Prince Valium
JMJ Bullock
Pizza the Hutt
Dom Deluise
Dot Matrix
Lorene Yarnell
Dot Matrix (voice)
Joan Rivers
John Hurt
Himself
Colonel Sanderz
George Wyner
Radar Technician
Michael Winslow
Radio Operator
Sal Viscuso
Minister
Ronny Graham
Commanderette Zircon
Leslie Bevis
Major Asshole
Jim Jackman
Laser Gunner
Michael Pniewski
Dr. Schlotkin
Sandy Helberg
Captain of the Guard
Stephen Tobolowsky
Snotty
Jeff Macgregor
Magnetic Beam Operator
Henry Kaiser
Charlene
Denise Gallup
Marlene
Dian Gallup
Vinnie
Rudy Deluca

Director
Mel Brooks

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