This article is about the film. For the TV series, see Spaceballs: The Animated Series. For other uses, see Spaceball (disambiguation).
"Ludicrous speed" redirects here. For the Tesla vehicular mode, see Tesla Model S.

Theatrical release poster
by John Alvin
Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Mel Brooks
Written by
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Nick McLean
Edited by Conrad Buff IV
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • June 26, 1987 (1987-06-26)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22.7 million[2]
Box office $38.1 million[3]

Spaceballs is a 1987 American science fiction parody film co-written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy, and Rick Moranis, the film also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and the voice of Joan Rivers. In addition to Brooks in a supporting role, the film also features Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise and Rudy De Luca in cameo appearances.

The film was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 24, 1987, and was met with a mixed reception. It has since become a cult classic[4] on video and one of Brooks's most popular films. Its setting and characters parody the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as other sci-fi franchises including Star Trek, Alien, and the Planet of the Apes films.


Planet Spaceball, led by the incompetent President Skroob, has wasted all of its air. Skroob schemes to force King Roland of the neighboring planet Druidia to give them their air by kidnapping his daughter Princess Vespa on the day of her pre-arranged wedding to the narcoleptic Prince Valium. Skroob sends the villainous Dark Helmet to complete this task with Spaceball One, an impossibly huge ship helmed by Colonel Sandurz. Before they can arrive, Vespa abandons her wedding and flees the planet in her Mercedes spaceship with her droid of honor, Dot Matrix.

Roland contacts mercenary Lone Starr and his mawg (half-man, half-dog) sidekick Barf, offering a lucrative reward to retrieve Vespa before she is captured. Lone Starr readily accepts, as he is in major debt with the gangster Pizza the Hutt. In their Winnebago space ship the Eagle 5, Starr and Barf are able to reach Vespa before Spaceball One, rescue both her and Dot, then escape. Spaceball One tries to follow, but Helmet foolishly orders the ship to "ludicrous speed," causing it to overshoot the escapees.

Out of fuel, Starr is forced to crash-land on the nearby "desert moon of Vega". The escapees travel on foot in blazing sun and pass out. They are found by the Dinks, a group of diminutive red-clad aliens, and are taken to a cave occupied by Yogurt, who is old and wise. Yogurt introduces Starr to "The Schwartz", a metaphysical power similar to the Force. Yogurt also introduces the audience to the film's merchandising campaign. Starr and Vespa begin to flirt, but Vespa insists she can only be married to a prince.

Helmet and Sandurz break the fourth wall by using a VHS copy of the film to discover Vespa's location, and Helmet orders Spaceball One to the moon. The Spaceballs capture Vespa and Dot, and return with them to planet Spaceball. Their captors threaten to reverse Vespa's nose job, forcing Roland to give over the code to the shield that protects Druidia. Helmet takes Spaceball One to Druidia, where he transforms the ship into Mega Maid, a giant robotic maid with a vacuum cleaner that begins sucking the air from the planet. Starr and Barf rescue Vespa and Dot from captivity, and then race to Druidia. Starr is able to use the Schwartz to reverse the robot's sucking action, returning the air to the planet.

Starr and his allies enter the Mega Maid to attempt to destroy it. Starr is forced to fight Helmet with lightsaber-like "Schwartz rings" near the ship's self-destruct button. Starr manages to defeat Helmet, causing him to involuntarily strike the button. Starr and his friends escape the ship, while Skroob, Helmet, and Sandurz fail to reach any escape pods in time. Trapped in the robot's head as the ship explodes, they land on a nearby planet, much to the regret of its Planet of the Apes-like population.

With Starr's debt to Pizza nullified by the gangster's untimely death, he returns Vespa to Roland and leaves, taking only enough money to cover his expenses. After a lunch break at a diner and a strange incident involving an alien and an astronaut, Starr finds a final message from Yogurt informing him that he is a prince and thus eligible to marry Vespa. He manages to reach Druidia in time to stop her wedding to Valium, announces his royal lineage, then marries Vespa.



When Mel Brooks developed Spaceballs, he wanted his parody to be as close to the original as possible. Even though Yogurt mentioned merchandising during the movie, Brooks's deal with George Lucas on parodying Star Wars was that no Spaceballs action figures be made. According to Brooks, "[Lucas] said, 'Your [action figures] are going to look like mine.' I said OK."[5][6]

Brooks also had Lucas's company handle the post-production, saying, "I was playing ball with the people who could have said no." Lucas later sent Brooks a note saying how much he loved Spaceballs and that he "was afraid [he] would bust something from laughing".[6]

Bill Pullman got the part of Lone Starr when Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft saw him in a play. Brooks had been unsuccessfully trying to sign on big-name actors such as Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks for the film. Pullman said, "I think [Mel] was hurt that they didn't take him up on it ... but then it attract[ed] two of the big comics at that time: John Candy and Rick Moranis. Once that was secured, then he said, 'Heck, I'll get somebody nobody knows!' And I got a chance to do it."[7]

Daphne Zuniga initially found Brooks's film parodies "too crass and not too funny", but after working with Brooks, she said, "I have this image of Mel as totally wacko and out to lunch. And he is. But he's also really perceptive, real sensitive in ways that make actors respond."[8]


When the film was released, Spaceballs: The Soundtrack was also released on Atlantic Records on audio CD and Compact Cassette, featuring many of the songs heard in the film, as well as three score cues by composer John Morris.

For the "19th Anniversary", La-La Land Records released a "limited edition" CD, presenting the score in its entirety for the first time, with bonus tracks featuring alternate takes and tracks composed for, but not used in the film.[9]

  1. "Spaceballs Main Title Theme" – John Morris
  2. "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" – Jeffrey Osborne and Kim Carnes
  3. "Heartstrings" – Berlin
  4. "Spaceballs Love Theme" (Instrumental) – John Morris
  5. "The Winnebago Crashes"/"The Spaceballs Build Mega-Maid" – John Morris
  6. "Spaceballs" – The Spinners
  7. "Hot Together" – The Pointer Sisters
  8. "Good Enough" – Van Halen
  9. "Wanna Be Loved by You" – Ladyfire
  10. "Raise Your Hands" (hidden track) – Bon Jovi

Characters and parodies




Spaceball One

The Spaceballs' weapon of conquest, Spaceball One, is a powerful spaceship and the equivalent of the Death Star in the movie, although in appearance it much more closely resembles an Imperial Star Destroyer. The opening scene with the ridiculously long, wide angle continuous shot of Spaceball One is an homage to the opening scene of Star Wars. The Spaceballs' attitude toward others is expressed by the ship's large bumper sticker: "We brake for nobody". In the DVD commentary, Mel Brooks mentions that he wanted the introductory 'spaceship' scene to be much longer, but changed his mind when it was pointed out that at the length he wanted, that one scene would become the entire movie.

The ship's absurd size is a frequent point of reference:

Spaceball One is capable of traveling at four different speeds: When a situation requires it to travel faster than its normal "sub-light" speed, it can accelerate to "Light Speed", "Ridiculous Speed", and "Ludicrous Speed". When going to Ludicrous Speed, all crew members must use a seat belt for their own safety. The only exception to this is Dark Helmet who ignores Colonel Sandurz's warning to buckle up ("Ah, buckle this!") and pays the price for it (when the emergency brake is pulled at his order, he is flung forward into a console, denting his helmet, breaking his glasses, and dazing him). This scene mocks a crucial scene from Polish/Soviet sci-fi movie Test pilota Pirxa where some human team members speed up a space ship to destroy a humanoid robot astronaut who attempts to kill others by decelerating their ship abruptly. Ludicrous Speed results in the ship leaving a trail of plaid, parodying the "warp trail" seen in the first few Star Trek films and 2001.

Spaceball One's secret weapon is its ability to transform, in parody of various transforming robot toys (Barf describes it as "a Transformer"), into Mega Maid, a colossal cleaning woman holding a gigantic vacuum cleaner used to extract air from other planets and take it back to planet Spaceball. As the "vacuum cleaner" has a three-way switch in its handle, it can also be made to reverse that process, expelling air ("Sir, it's Mega-Maid! She's gone from 'suck' to 'blow'!!!"), as Lone Starr uses "the Schwartz" to move the switch through telekinesis, into the "reverse" position to restore planet Druidia's atmosphere. When Spaceball One begins to undergo its transformation into "Mega Maid", Dark Helmet exclaims "Ready, Kafka?", an allusion to Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

The ship's destruction mixes-and-mashes the destruction of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi with that of Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. Lone Starr's ship flies through a small hole in Mega Maid's ear to reach the self-destruct button, then escapes out the other ear only seconds before the ship explodes. Mega Maid's head, and the hand holding the vacuum-cleaner handle, crash on a nearby planet's sandy ocean beach with Sandurz, Skroob and Helmet still aboard (but escaping shortly after the landing). Mega Maid's telescoping escape pod launch tubes exposed outside her head, in addition to her right arm's broken-off vacuum cleaner handle looking like her "torch", give Mega Maid's remaining pieces a sizable resemblance to the wrecked Statue of Liberty as seen in the final scene of Planet of the Apes.

Other villains

Other parodies

The Schwartz

Primarily, "the Schwartz" is a play on "the Force", from Star Wars. The lightsabers emanating from the Schwartz-rings held in front of the crotch are phallic symbols. Schwarz (an adjective) is German for "black" and a common Ashkenazi Jewish surname. The Light and Dark sides of the Force are parodied by being called the "up side" and the "down side". In the first episode of the animated series, the Dark Side is called "the Schwarz side of the Schwartz". It has also been widely reported that "the Schwartz" is a reference to Brooks's lawyer, Alan U. Schwartz.[11][12][13] The word is also reminiscent of the Yiddish word Schwanz, "tail", which is Yiddish/German slang for "penis". This is also implied by the phallic symbolism and jokes ("I see your Schwartz is as big as mine").


Box office

The budget for Spaceballs was an estimated $22.7 million. The film grossed $38,119,483 during its run in the United States, taking in $6,613,837 on its opening weekend, finishing behind Dragnet.[14]

Critical reception

A helmet from the film at a convention in Stockholm, Sweden.

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 54% of critics gave positive reviews based on 35 reviews with an average rating of 6.2/10.[15] At another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 46%, based on 14 reviews.[16] Many critics agreed that, while it was funny, doing a Star Wars parody ten years after the original film had been released seemed pointless. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, and remarked "I enjoyed a lot of the movie, but I kept thinking I was at a revival…it should have been made several years ago, before our appetite for Star Wars satires had been completely exhausted."[17]

Home media

Spaceballs was first made available on VHS and LaserDisc in February 1988; they were re-released in the late 1990s. The VHS edition was issued twice; the latter edition was presented in widescreen. The laserdisc, meanwhile, also gained a commentary track with Brooks; this was transferred over to the DVD and Blu-ray releases. The film was first released on DVD on April 25, 2000. This version also contained "the making of..." documentary and the collectible "making-of" booklet. The film was then released in the "Collectors Edition" on May 3, 2005. This edition contained more extras including the documentary about the film and the video conversation about the making of the film with Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan. On August 7, 2012, the "25th Anniversary Edition" was released on Blu-ray containing many of the same bonus features as the 2005 DVD release with the addition of a new featurette.[18]

Sequel and animated series

The possibility of a sequel was satirized in the film, with Yogurt's quote: "God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money".

In September 2004, news about a sequel, parodying the Star Wars prequel trilogy, appeared online.[19] A follow on to Spaceballs was eventually developed[20][21] into an animated television show which debuted in September 2008 as Spaceballs: The Animated Series on G4 and the Canadian Super Channel.

Moranis claimed in an interview that he and Brooks had discussed a potential sequel, with Moranis pitching the title Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II. However, Moranis added that he and Brooks were unable to structure a deal that would allow the project to move forward.[22]

In February 2015, Brooks said that he would like to make a sequel to be released after the next Star Wars movie and hopes that Rick Moranis would reprise his role from the first film. A sequel with the whole cast is not possible since John Candy, Joan Rivers, Dick Van Patten and Dom DeLuise are all deceased.[23] This proposed film, Brooks said, may be called Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.[24]

In 1989, the film Martians Go Home was distributed in the Italian market as Balle Spaziali 2 - La vendetta (Balle Spaziali being the localized title of Spaceballs). The film has no connection to Spaceballs.[25]


  1. "Spaceballs (PG) (CUT)". British Board of Film Classification. July 14, 1987. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  2. "Spaceballs (1987) - Box office / business". IMDb.
  3. "Spaceballs (1987)". Box Office Mojo. 1987-08-18. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  4. "Spaceballs - Cast, Reviews, Summary, and Awards - AllRovi". 1987-06-24. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  5. Patrick Carone (2013-02-06). "Interview: Icon Mel Brooks". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  6. 1 2 Steve Heisler (2012-12-13). "Mel Brooks on how to play Hitler, and how he almost died making Spaceballs". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  7. Ben Pearson. "Q&A with Actor Bill Pullman". Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  8. "Spaceballs". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  9. "''Spaceballs'' press release at La-La Land Records". Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  10. Benjamin Zhang and Matthew DeBord. (2015). "Elon Musk just announced 'Ludicrous Mode' for the Tesla Model S." Business Insider, July 17, 2015
  11. David Margolick, "LAW: AT THE BAR; More lawyers are less happy at their work, a survey finds", New York Times, August 17, 1990.
  12. David A. Kaplan, "Requiem for a law firm", Newsweek, January 7, 1991.
  13. Emily Bryson York, "Writers' rights: L.A. attorney Alan Schwartz has represented Truman Capote and Mel Brooks", Los Angeles Business Journal, August 14, 2006.
  14. "Spaceballs". 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  15. "Spaceballs Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  16. "Spaceballs (1987): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  17. "Spaceballs —". Chicago Sun-Times.
  18. Katz, Josh (June 6, 2012). "Spaceballs: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray". Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  19. Slashdot September 29, 2004
  20. Elizabeth Guider, "'Spaceballs' rolls to TV", Variety, January 19, 2005.
  21. "'Spaceballs' to become TV cartoon", CNN, September 21, 2006.
  22. ""You Don't Do Liner Notes With The Dead Sea Scrolls": Rick Moranis In Conversation". Heeb. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  23. "Mel Brooks hints at Spaceballs sequel to spoof new Star Wars". The Telegraph. 8 February 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  24. Corinne Heller (6 February 2015). "Spaceballs 2 a Go? Mel Brooks Talks Sequel, Its Perfect, Obvious Title and Rick Moranis". E! Online.
  25. "Balle spaziali 2 - MYmovies". Retrieved 2011-08-12.<>

External links

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