By the time Spaceballs rolled around, Mel Brooks' brand of zany slapstick and genre parody had long since begun to wear out its welcome. And by 1987, Star Wars was a positively ancient target for satire. It's no surprise, then, that this collection or hoary puns and cheesy sight gags smelled strongly of mothballs even during its initial run. Despite the assembled talent, from John Candy to John Hurt, writer/director Brooks seems more capable of eliciting groans than laughs with his endless sight gags and pointless running jokes. Joan Rivers is actually a hoot as the voice of robot prude Dot Matrix. But it doesn't say much for the rest of the picture that the best acting -- and funniest jokes -- come from a performer who's heard but never seen. With his royal drag and practically dreadlocked fright wig, Dick Van Patten is worth a laugh or two as the hapless King Roland. Brooks also works in a few decent set pieces and swipes at other sci-fi films. But the puns, from "Druish Princess" to "Pizza the Hut," belong in the warmup monologue of a talk show, not the script of a Hollywood feature. And the jokes are even worse when they fall outside the confines of Mad Magazine-style send-ups. The scene in which the characters watch the video of their own movie to find out what happens next is only one example of the labored hamminess on display. In fact, the only consistently funny element is John Morris's score, which takes deadly aim at the bombast of John Williams -- and scores a direct hit.
by Brian J. Dillard review