Spaceballs

Movie review by
Paul Trandahl, Common Sense Media
Spaceballs Movie Poster Image
Goofy '80s parody has cursing, violence, innuendo.
  • PG
  • 1987
  • 96 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 78 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is always irreverent and often crude, but the core story has the good guys triumphing, love conquering all, and friendship persevering.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The good guys do the right thing in the end, and some characters change for the better (particularly Lone Starr and Princess Vespa). That said, there's some ethnic humor relating to Jewish and African-American stereotypes, and Vespa isn't a particularly independent woman. Dark Helmet is also whiny and petulant.

Violence

Some cartoonish combat/violence. Princess Vespa shoots a group of enemy soldiers with a ray gun. Dark Helmet uses "the Schwartz" to inflict pain on a man's genitalia; he and Lone Starr have a battle with their respective Schwartzes. 

Sex

Not too much is shown, but there's plenty of innuendo. Lots of groin-related jokes, the most explicit when Dark Helmet and Lone Starr activate their Schwartzes while cupping privates. President Skroob is shown in bed with a pair of twins. Much is made of preserving Princess Vespa's virginity.

Language

"F--k" uttered once by Dark Helmet. "S--t" and "a--hole" frequently used. "Ass." "Son of a bitch." Humor often mined out of sexual innuendo; for instance, the famous line "Your Schwartz is as big as mine!" 

Consumerism

The movie mocks excessive movie commercialism by showing a Spaceballs-themed gift shop featuring a wide and absurd array of merchandise adorned with the Spaceballs logo. Lone Starr pilots a Winnebago, and Princess Vespa's ship is a Mercedes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to smoking and "beer-swilling space dogs." One of the characters is named "Prince Valium" -- he always looks drugged and sleepy. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spaceballs is Mel Brooks' 1987 spoof of the Star Wars franchise. However, while the Star Wars movies are movies young kids can watch and enjoy, the bawdy humor and absurd innuendo and double entendre make this best for older kids. Characters have names like "Major A--hole" and "Prince Valium." Ethnic and racial jokes abound; Princess Vespa, for instance, from the planet Druidia, is a "Druish Princess," and when Dark Helmet orders his troops to "comb the beach," African-American troops are shown using a giant afro comb to run through the sand. When Lone Star and Dark Helmet fight with light sabers, they turn them on while holding their hands close to their respective crotches, causing Dark Helmet to exclaim, "Your Schwartz is as big as mine!" One of the characters emerges from under the blankets in a bed with two identical twin women. There's some pratfall and slapstick violence, and language: "f--k" is used once, and "s--t" and "a--hole" are frequently used.

User Reviews

Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written bymusicmama June 29, 2009
Parents should note that the PG rating is circa 1987 standards. I was surprised when I heard the word a**hole multiple times within the first 10 minutes of the... Continue reading
Adult Written byPickierMom November 25, 2012

Spaceballs, Not.

I bought this off iTunes for my almost 9 year old; it is rated PG. He loved the goofy humor and satire and would gladly watch again. However, I was really dis... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old June 28, 2014

Funnyballs!

It was REALLY, REALLY funny. Had a lot of silly laughs but great for ages 7-8 and up, if the parents are ok with the bad words.
Kid, 12 years old January 19, 2014

A parody that actually works

Spaceballs is a very funny parody of Star Wars. Parody's normally do not work, as we all know. However, Spaceballs is different. It paradises (yes, that... Continue reading

What's the story?

When spoiled Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) is kidnapped by President Skroob's (Mel Brooks) evil regime in SPACEBALLS, it's up to scruffy hero Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his faithful companion, Barf (John Candy), to rescue her.

Is it any good?

Brooks' Star Wars parody isn't particularly sophisticated, but older kids and teens should have fun with the goofy humor. Like most Brooks fare, Spaceballs revels in crude, sometimes infantile gags. For example, when the Darth Vader-inspired character, Dark Helmet, first appears, he approaches the camera, breathing heavily through his face-obscuring mask. Suddenly he flips up the front of the mask to reveal a nerdy-looking Rick Moranis, who exclaims, "I can't breathe in this thing!"

One of the great virtues of Brooks' masterwork, Young Frankenstein, was its beautiful re-creation of the look of the horror films of the 1930s, which added punch to all the ensuing silliness. Here, you don't really get the impression of watching a Star Wars movie gone mad: Many of the cheap-ish looking sets wouldn't look out of place on an episode of Saturday Night Live. Nevertheless, there are moments when the movie shines. Excessive merchandising is taken to task in a very funny scene in which Yogurt (Brooks again) hawks everything from Spaceballs the toilet paper to Spaceballs the flame thrower ("the kids love this one!"). And the movie's most memorable gag pays tribute to both the Alien series and the classic Chuck Jones cartoon "One Froggy Evening." Another good bit manages to work in a re-creation of the famous conclusion of Planet of the Apes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other film or TV parodies besides Spaceballs that they enjoy. For example, The Simpsons is one of the best examples of parody used as social commentary. What can funny imitations point out that serious analysis may render too boring?

  • Which movies is Spaceballs specifically making fun of? How can you tell?

  • Mel Brooks has a distinctive style of comedy movies, movies filled with puns, sexual innuendoes, silliness, and slapstick. Who are some other examples of directors and actors who have their own distinct and well-known style? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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