Review: Animated Spaceballs Lacks Force of Laughs


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Review: Animated Spaceballs Lacks Force of Laughs

Wired said:

With Star Wars surging back into the public consciousness on the strength of The Clone Wars, maybe it was inevitable that an old sci-fi parody would also resurface in animated form. It's just too bad it couldn't be funnier when it showed up.

Spaceballs: The Animated Series, a weekly version of Mel Brooks' 1987 big-screen sci-fi spoof, takes pot shots at everything Star Wars, Star Trek or sci-fi in general every Sunday at noon on the G4 cable channel.

Brooks' production company is behind the animated series, and the comedy legend voices two characters himself. Daphne Zuniga, Joan Rivers, Tino Insana and Rino Romano join Brooks in the voice cast.

Unfortunately, the humor of Spaceballs: The Animated Series hasn't been updated from the original: The show lugs the same lack of subtly that made the Spaceballs movie so hit or miss.

While Brooks classics like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein capitalized on edgy humor that affectionately parodied their subject matter, Spaceballs in movie form was burdened with clunky and predictable jokes that demonstrated how little Brooks and company understood what they were mocking.

Darth Vader is huge. So why not just make the Spaceballs version, Dark Helmet, short? That's funny, right? Why not name the old green wizard in Spaceballs Yogurt? See? It sort of looks like Yoda. And you can eat yogurt. Classic. And, if Star Wars built much of its story line on The Force, Spaceballs has The Schwartz — a Yiddish-y lightsaber that extends from the crotch. Unpack the Humanitas Prize.

All you need to do is take jokes like these and explain them to exhaustion, and you have the level of parody Spaceballs: The Animated Series offers.

Sadly, the show adds a laugh-crushing layer of crude sexual jokes. Such onslaughts of T & A overkill drew laughs when the great Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn were playing the lines with understated subtlety. But when you've got a poor man's Rick Moranis impersonator playing with robotic nipples, the gag draws more winces than giggles.

It's hard to tell what the audience is for Spaceballs: The Animated Series. It packs the humor IQ of a child and might work as a Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Disney daytime spoof, if not for the very adult sexual bits that will probably force most parents to send their little ones packing while they scramble for the remote.

In the end, there's no clear reason why the animated TV show should resurface 21 years after the Spaceballs movie, aside from the fact that Star Wars is entertaining a new generation. With the success of Cartoon Network's Clone Wars, apparently it's fair enough for Spaceballs to simply mock the reinvigorated franchise for those new Star Wars fans.

Spaceballs: The Animated Series airs Sundays at noon on G4.

Wired: Once in a while, a verbal gag gets a smile. And, it's in color.

Tired: The premise was tired when the movie came out — modern parody buried this type of blunt treatment long ago.


Images courtesy G4

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(Via Wired)

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