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Abandon Ship: Played for Laughs. Everybody is shown running for the escape pods in the film's climax — the orchestra, a variety of circus freaks, and even a bear — but leaving behind Colonel Sandurz, President Skroob, and Dark Helmet. Many of these are part of the capper of a Brick Joke initiated when Colonel Sandurz orders the cancellation of a three-ring circus and the closing of the zoo aboard Spaceball One as part of the preparations for Ludicrous Speed.
Anachronism Stew: Played with. Like the franchise it mimics, Spaceballs appears to be set "in a galaxy far, far away", only with futuristic trappings. However, with the exception of Druidia, every locale in the film features contemporary details: a Winnebago trailer, Heavy Metal music, pizza, videotapes, The Merch (including a flamethrower!), Washington, D.C.-like government buildings, and references to such things as Disneyland and Wide World of Sports. Rule of Funny, of course.
And a minor one - after Dr. Schlotkins and the Hospital Hottie get caught making out in the dark, Helmet tells him to "get back to the golf course and work on your putts!" Putz is also Yiddish for penis/dick.
Blowing a Raspberry: Parodied. Dark Helmet exclaims, "There is only one man, who would dare give me the Raspberry! Lone Starr!" after the hero has jammed Spaceball One's radar literally with... jam... Raspberry-flavored jam.
The Bore: Prince Valium puts himself to sleep, he's that boring.
At one point, the villains believe they've captured Lone Starr, Barf, Vespa, and Dot, only to learn they've mistakenly captured their stunt doubles.
After Colonel Sandurz takes a brief turn as Mr. Exposition, Dark Helmet lampshades it by turning towards the camera to ask, "Everybody got that?"
When on the desert planet, at one point there's a transition from Barf and Lone Starr to the sun beating down on the desert, with it shining through behind them in a dissolve effect. Halfway through, Barf comments, "Nice dissolve!"
During the duel between Lone Star and Dark Helmet, one of the camera crew gets killed by a wayward strike.
A camera collides with Dark Helmet during a zoom-in shot.
Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz watch the movie on video to find out where the heroes are at that moment.
As the heroes attempt to elude a squad of guards firing lasers at them, Dot comments "Ooh, I HATE movies like this!"
As President Skroob comes running into the bridge of Spaceball One:
Skroob:(panting) The ship is too long. If I walk, the movie'll be over.
Pretty much half of Yogurt's lines are breaking the fourth wall, with him hawking merchandise for the movie in the middle of the movie.
Yogurt: Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made!
Even his last line spoken in person gets it:
Lone Starr: Will we ever meet again? Yogurt: Who knows? God willing we'll all meet again in Spaceballs Two: The Search For More Money.
After the Spaceballs force King Roland to give them the air shield code, Sandurz goes to turn off the wall communicator—and instead turns off the movie.
While preparing for Ludicrous Speed, Sandurz mentions cancelling the three-ring circus and closing the zoo. When it comes time to abandon ship, the crowd includes several circus freaks and a bear.
Early in the "you're looking at now" bit, the shelves of videotapes include several Rocky sequels, setting up the Rocky 5000 gag near the end of the movie.
After the Princess's wedding, Dot mentions she won't be needing the virgin alarm anymore.
During the first rescue of Vespa, Barf mentions that she doesn't look like a Druish princess... about an hour later, we see her original nose.
Butter Face: Princess Vespa's stunt double. Because it's a guy.
Butt Monkey: For an evil warrior feared the universe over, Lord Dark Helmet seems to have very unfortunate things happen to him on a near-hourly basis. Just for funsies, here are some examples — he burns his mouth with coffee in his introductory scene, gets hit in the head with the door of Vespa's car, is sent flying into the front control panel of Spaceball-One when they decelerate from Ludicrous Speed, is found role-playing a liaison between himself and Vespa with dolls, and can't keep his helmet visor up to save his life. And that's before the climax of the movie.
Camera Abuse: The camera hits Dark Helmet in the face during a close-up. Later, a cameraman gets slashed during the climactic battle sequence between Lone Starr and Dark Helmet.
Dark Helmet: Um, he did it! Lone Starr: What?!
Camp Gay: The "You've captured their stunt doubles" Spaceball guy.
Delivered by Barf when he collapses in the desert.
Delivered by Barf and Lone Starr in stereo after seeing a singing, dancing chest-burster come out of John Hurt.
Child Marriage Veto: King Roland never has to back off from his demand that his daughter shall marry a prince. Sure the horribly boring Prince Valium was the only prince left in the galaxy, but it turns out that the hero is actually also a prince. Problem solved.
Comically Missing the Point: When Lone Starr tries the Vulcan neck pinch on a guard, the guard just tells him how to properly do it, and then passes out when it's done right.
Composite Character: Lone Starr is a combination of Luke Skywalker (training in the resident magic source and rivalry with the lead villain) and Han Solo (criminal ties, Only in It for the Money, cynical, and best friends with furry alien), with the costume design of Indiana Jones. Yogurt is Yoda (name and appearance) and Obi-Wan (training style). Colonel Sandurz represents the various imperial officers that appeared through the movies.
Conveniently Close Planet: Lone Star's Winnebago comes out of Hyperspeed and promptly runs out of gas. Cue nearby desert planet to land on.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Spaceballs threaten to undo Princess Vespa's nose-job and return her nose to its original grotesque size unless the King hands over the access codes to Druidia's planetary defenses. It works.
Lone Starr and Dark Helmet square off with their "Schwartz" lightsabers suggestively held at crotch height. Dark Helmet remarks "Hmm... I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let's see how well you... handle it!" Made even better when they both glance down to check.
Also, this line: Sandurz: It's Mega-Maid, sir. She's gone from "suck" to "blow"!
And: "Oh, yes, sir. Snotty beamed me twice last night. It was wonderful."
Also, after King Roland gives Dark Helmet and President Skroob the combination to his planet's air shield therefore preventing Princess Vespa from having to be given back her once ugly nose by the nose surgeon, Dark Helmet dismisses the nose surgeon by telling him: You can go back to the golf course now and work on your "putts".
Dramatic Timpani: Provided by an actual timpanist, who reappears during the evacuation sequence.
Fake Static: Barf uses this ploy to make King Roland promise a million space bucks to rescue Princess Vespa. Note that he wasn't pretending to lose picture to get away from the conversation as is standard of this trope, but rather as a way of saying "I'm losing interest in this deal."
Fanfare: Can't be a parody of Star Wars without one.
Flynning: The entire Laser Blade fight consists of a few pirate halves done so slowly that a higher intensity scene could have been had by hopping two children up on sugar and giving them foam swords. It was probably intentional, as the slow, clumsy fight choreography of Star Wars: A New Hope was legendary.
Mr. <Insert Product Here> machinery in the background of various scenes.
Glasses Pull: Of a kind. Dark Helmet pulls the mask down over his face whenever he wants to be scary and dramatic, and pops it up when he starts expressing exasperation or confusion. Or when he realizes he can't breathe in that thing.
Groin Attack: Dark Helmet's preferred use of his Schwartz powers is to force-choke the nads of subordinates who fail him. Or annoy him. ("You went over my helmet?") After the first time, they start covering themselves immediately when he gets angry.
Princess Vespa: I am Princess Vespa, daughter of Roland, King of the Druids. Lone Starr: Oh great. That's all we needed. A Druish princess. Barf: Funny, she doesn't look Druish.
Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Vespa, while still in her dress, is handed a gun. She refuses to use it until her hair is singed. Then she goes "good enough for Rambo" by mowing down a line of Spaceballs.
Keep the Reward: Near the end, Vespa laments how greedy Lone Starr was to take the money and leave, only for her father to tell her that he only took 248 spacebucks for food, gas, and tolls. (Lone Starr had asked him not to tell her.)
Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After watching the painful footage of being catapulted into the bulkhead of Spaceball One, Dark Helmet says, "No, no. Go past this part. In fact never play this part again", and nervously drinks his coffee.
Lie to the Beholder: Dark Helmet makes himself appear as King Roland in order to lure Vespa into his clutches. Dot sees through the illusion, too late.
Lightning Bruiser: Spaceball One is (of the three we see to any degree) not only the most heavily armed, but also the fastest, if Ludicrous Speed counts for anything.
Love Makes You Dumb: At least during first meetings, "Now listen: on this ship, you are to refer to me as 'Idiot', not 'You captain!' I mean, you know what I mean." So much for Lone Starr always being right.
Lots of Luggage: After the Winnebago crash-lands on the desert planet, Lone Starr tells Princess Vespa to take only what she needs to survive. She determines that this includes her industrial-strength hair dryer, carried in a very large suitcase (which, naturally, she forces Lone and Barf to carry).
Ludicrous Speed: The Trope Namer, when Helmet says that they can't catch Lone Starr going at lightspeed. They need to go to ludicrous speed.
The Merch: Beautifully parodied. Taken one step further by some of it clearly being Transformers merchandise with Spaceballs stickers on them. The Merch helps the baddies find Lone Starr and company, and it's everywhereif you look for it. Sadly there was no real life Merch for Spaceballs, because of an agreement between Mel Brooks and George Lucas.
Lone Starr:(sneaks up behind a guard and grabs his neck) Guard:(pause) What the hell are you doing? Lone Starr: ... the Vulcan neck pinch? Guard: No, no, stupid. You've got it much too high, it's more down here where the shoulder meets the neck! Lone Starr: Like this? Guard: Yeah! (collapses) Lone Starr: Thanks.
Parodied. After issuing a denial regarding his planet's air crisis, President Skroob surreptitiously reaches into his desk drawer for a can of refreshing Perri-air.
Lone Starr has a Space Invaders pinball machine on-board his Winnebago.
Mr. Coffee is name-dropped, and becomes a Running Gag of sorts (Mr. Radar, Mr. Rental, etc.).
Pun: It's a Mel Brooks film. It's the standard humor.
When you say you're going to comb the desert, out come the oversized prop combs.
"Well, just what we need... a Druish princess!" "Funny, she doesn't look Druish." (Mel Brooks has said that the only reason he named the planet Druidia was so he could make that one joke.)
"What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz, CHICKEN?"
"PIZZA THE HUTT!"
"Yogurt! I HATE YOGURT! Even with strawberries!"
"Radar... about to be... jammed!"
"There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry!"
Put Off Their Food: At the end of the movie, when a diner patron who ate the Special begins moaning in pain, Barf - who'd also ordered the Special - quickly changes his order. After the alien bursts out and does its dance, both Lone Starr and Barf simply say "Check Please" and leave without eating.
Rage Helm: Dark Helmet, in an over-the-top parody of Vader.
Reading Ahead in the Script: The Spaceballs watch the VHS of the movie to find out where the heroes have escaped to. This causes great weirdness when they first get to the part of the video that's currently going on.
Reality Ensues: When Spaceball One comes out of Ludicrous Speed, Dark Helmet follows Newton's First Law and smashes into the wall in front of him.
Reality-Writing Book: An example of a video rather than a book. The evil characters watch the video of the movie they are starring in — at one point their actions in the film universe and the video are perfectly synched up, which confuses the hell out of Dark Helmet.
Although it is mostly a parody of Star Wars, the plot closely resembles the classic romantic comedy It Happened One Night. Down to Lone Star only accepting the $200-something travel expenses as pay, rather than the million dollars—sorry, million space bucks.
Parodied relentlessly, with the Millennium Falcon equivalent being a literal Winnebago with wings — lampshaded when Spaceball guards call it exactly that — and the currency being "space bucks", among other examples. Especially funny near the end, with the actual Millennium Falcon and the Winnebago both stopping for gas, IN SPACE!
Sequel Snark: Yogurt jokes that he and Lone Starr will meet again in Spaceballs 2: the Search for More Money, as part of the movie's Running Gag about merchandising. No sequel has been made, though an animated series had a short run in the mid 2000s.
"Coming up next, Pongo's review of Rocky Five... Thousand."
Dark Helmet: I always have coffee before watching radar. You know that! Colonel Sandurz: Of course I do, sir! Dark Helmet:(to crew) Everybody knows that! Crew:(in unison, covering their crotches) Of course we do, sir!
And of course, the single longest gag in the film, the opening establishing shot of Spaceball One, is a Shout-Out to the shot of the Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Episode IV. The shape of Spaceball One and the music that plays during its reveal also shout out to Jaws; the ship is shaped like a shark, and the music is a slower horn-version of the Jaws theme.
Pizza the Hutt's mook Vinny Poker-Face seems to be a reference to Max Headroom, with his angular head and neck twitch.
Lone Starr tries the Vulcan neck pinch from Star Trek. The guard then tells him how to do it right, and then passes out due to the pinch now working.
When President Skroob tells the crew to prepare for The Metamorphosis and Dark Helmet replies, "Ready, Kafka?"
And then there's this gem:
"What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz...? Chicken..?"
The evil plan of the Spaceballs is a reference to a ethnic joke probably not told anymore. Why do Jews have big noses? Because air is free. Being Mel Brooks this is probably intentional.
Skroob telling Marlene and Charlene to "chew your gum!" is meant to be a reference to Wrigley's Doublemint Gum, which used twins in their advertisments.
It's not clear where exactly the parody comes from, but Spaceball One's transformation to Mega-Maid is either a reference to the SDF-1's transformation in Robotech or Transformers. It might be both. Barf specifically describes it as a Transformer.
Mel Brooks has said the only reason that the planet in Spaceballs is named Druidia is so he could throw in the line about a "Druish Princess". Plus plenty of more scenes. That's okay because Mel Brooks has N-Word Privileges. "Funny, She Doesn't Look Druish!"
President Skroob wears a traditional Jewish groom's tuxedo.
Unmanly Secret: Dark Helmet plays with dolls that look like the main characters of the movie when he thinks he's alone... Of course, Col. Sandurz catches him in the act, but assures him that he "didn't see [him] playing with [his] dolls again."
Your Spacecraft's Size May Vary: Mega-Maid, who at first starts off as big enough for a starship(albeit a star-Winnebago) to enter its "ear canal," then shrinks, but still big enough for a Spaceball to slide out its nostril.