Star Wars is quite possibly the best film franchise of all time because not only are (most of) the films a blast to watch, but they are incredibly easy to spoof. I wrote about the original Star Wars parody, 1978’s Hardware Wars, a while back and I had a lot of fun doing that.
Lately I’ve been wondering what is the absolute best Star Wars parody. I can’t decide because each one has its strengths and weaknesses, and there isn’t one that clearly sticks out above the rest. Let’s go through my four favorites and see if we can come to a consensus on which one is the superior parody.
Spaceballs – Mel Brooks’ last good movie of his career is a hit-and-miss affair. I love the go-for-broke beginning that takes the joke about an extremely long spaceship and milks it for all its worth long past when it should have stopped being funny. That’s a good metaphor for this film. It runs out of funny material somewhere in the second half and has to resort to a bunch of half-hearted jokes that don’t have much to do with Star Wars.
I did enjoy the climactic Schwartz fight between Dark Helmet and Lonestar, though, especially when they accidentally slice a member of the film crew in half and bicker over who is responsible. That was one of my favorite moments from the whole film when I first saw it as a kid.
Even though Spaceballs is a less-than-perfect film, it still has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Here are some of my favorite lines:
“Go past this part. In fact, never play this again.”
“Light Speed is too slow. We’re gonna have to go right to… Ludicrous Speed.”
“These are not them! These are their stunt doubles!”
“What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?”
“Radar about to be jammed.”
“Did you see anything?” “No, sir! I didn’t see you playing with your dolls again.”
George Lucas in Love – This is a bit of an oddball entry. My mom found this short film years ago when I was a teenager, and she invited a bunch of my siblings and I to watch it with her. We found it absolutely hilarious. It’s a Star Wars-themed sendup of 1998’s Shakespeare in Love. The problem is that I still haven’t seen Shakespeare in Love, so I’m not sure if I’m getting all of the subtle humor in this film. But as far as I can tell, this is a nearly flawless parody. Sure, it shows Lucas typing his Star Wars screenplay on a typewriter in 1967 while he was still at college, even though he famously handwrote the first treatment in a green notebook after completing his first hit film American Graffiti in 1973. But those historical inaccuracies can be forgiven because the story is so well told.
Despite being only eight minutes long, George Lucas in Love manages to tell a convincing love story and be an interesting character study, as well. Oh, and it’s full of brilliant in-jokes for anyone familiar with George Lucas’ life and films.
“Could you talk forward?”
“Maybe you weren’t meant to write agricultural space tragedies.”
(In unison) “Mom? Mom!?”
Hardware Wars – What can I say about this film that I haven’t already said in my other review of it? It is 13 minutes of bliss. The acting is purposefully silly, a tiny red Cookie Monster fills in for a giant Wookiee, and there are funny names for everything like Planet Basketball, Ham Salad, and Augie Ben Doggie. Plus, what kind of twisted genius decided to have Cookie Monster take one look at the Princess’ crazy hair buns and start chomping away at one of them?
This movie is daring and disjointed, and I love every minute of it. This was my clear favorite for years until George Lucas in Love and Thumb Wars came out in 1999 and threw a monkey wrench in the works.
“You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll kiss three bucks goodbye!”
“I can’t understand you. Are you talkin’ to me?”
“Get us out of here!” “Take it easy, kid. It’s only a movie.”
“Jeepers! What is it, Augie Ben Doggie? Did you feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced?” “No, it’s just a little headache.”
“Can this thing do Light Speed?” “You bet your asteroid, kid. Hold on.”
Thumb Wars – I didn’t think anything could top Hardware Wars in terms of making fun of every aspect of Star Wars that could be exploited on a ridiculously small budget. This film may have proven me wrong. It takes advantage of somewhat better special effects to give a much more ambitious take on the Star Wars saga. It incorporates some elements of The Empire Strikes Back into A New Hope to create a 30-minute film that feels surprisingly large in scope. The scenes are all fast-paced, but there is still plenty of time to take in the impressive miniature sets and allow jokes to be enjoyed to the fullest.
The fact that Thumb Wars is more than double the length of the other two short films gives it more opportunities to make the audience laugh, and it takes advantage of every one of them. There are a number of jokes that don’t work, like when Loke Groundrunner takes a closer look at the hologram, and the running gag involving “Touch your tongue to mine.” But most of this film is wall-to-wall comedy that will leave you in stitches.
“If there were thumbs in space and they got mad at each other, there would be… Thumb Wars!”
“I am Oobedoob Benubi. I have the silliest name in the galaxy.”
“You are bad! You are bad, and we are good! Your badness will be the end of you, and our goodness will be our triumph. Bad is bad. Good is good. Bad, bad, good, bad. Good, good, bad, good, bad… good.”
“All right, you thumbs, listen up. A one-armed man killed my wife, Sabrina, a working girl. And now I’m a fugitive and in clear and present danger. I should be presumed innocent, but they’re playing patriot games with me. Raiders, Regarding Henry, Blade Runner, Air Force One.”
Thumb Wars has the most jokes that work perfectly, but it also has more jokes that fall flat than the two short films. The material and style of George Lucas in Love and Hardware Wars make them only sustainable for a short amount of time while Spaceballs and Thumb Wars manage to stick around for much longer without wearing out their welcome too much. If I have to put them in order from favorite to least favorite, I would have to say:
1. Thumb Wars
2. Hardware Wars
3. George Lucas in Love
It’s really a tossup between Hardware Wars and George Lucas in Love for the second spot because they’re both so good. Thumb Wars is just a little better at capturing the Star Wars story and exploiting all of its silliness. As Hardware Wars succinctly declares, “May the farce be with you.”
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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