Cinema is always prone to parody, and audiences are regularly treated to a good spoof. Whether in reverence or ridicule, the most iconic of movie moments are parodied again and again. Even cinema’s less iconic moments are the victim of a good old-fashioned lampooning from time to time (hey, the Wayans have made a career out of it). And movies don’t come more iconic than STAR WARS, arguably the most definitive cinematic experience of the last thirty years. Whether you’re a practicing Jedi Knight or Sith Lord, there’s no denying the impact of George Lucas’s epic intergalactic saga. So let the force be with us as we take a look back at the ten greatest STAR WARS parodies ever…
10. SPACEBALLS (1987)
Mel Brooks delivered a number of parodies during his career, giving both the western and horror genres the spoof treatment with BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN respectively. With the original STAR WARS trilogy being the success it was, it was only a matter of time before a japester such as Brooks gave it the comedy makeover.
Though the years have not been kind to Brooks’s SPACEBALLS, it remains popular with audiences to this day, and benefits from the appearance of some 80s comedy legends. Rick Moranis’s turn as the pint-sized Vader-esque Dark Helmet remains the highlight of the movie, and John Candy is always worth is weight in comedy gold, whether he be in plane, train, or Winnebago with wings. And who can deny the pleasure of two men battling to the death with neon phallus-sabers? The Schwartz is truly strong with this one…
9. THE SIMPSONS (1989 – present)
Despite the gargantuan success of STAR WARS, we didn’t see much of lead-man Mark Hamill in the years that followed its release. Despite the occasional appearance in such low-budget fare as VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1995), Hamill found his calling primarily as a voice actor, famously lending his sinister tones to the Joker in the acclaimed BATMAN cartoon series. But in 1998 Hamill returned to his STAR WARS roots, voicing himself in THE SIMPSONS episode, ‘Mayored to the Mob’.
After having his butt saved by ‘nerd-buster’ Homer Simpson following a riotous science-fiction convention, Hamill finds himself starring in ‘Guys and Dolls’, even lending his vocal talents to a rendition of ‘Luke Be a Jedi Tonight’.
Produced during the height of THE SIMPSONS popularity, this remains one of the most famous of its guest appearances, and one of Hamill’s definitive post-STAR WARS moments. Use the forks, Homer… the forks!
8. TOY STORY 2 (1999)
The most iconic of all STAR WARS moments comes at the climax of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – with his hand chopped off and one hell of a drop below him, the last thing Luke Skywalker wants to hear is that intergalactic bully-boy Darth Vader might be his old man. It’s a moment so iconic, that it was parodied by one of the other great movie trilogies, Pixar’s flagship TOY STORY series.
During the second installment (arguably the best of all the TOY STORY movies), Buzz Lightyear finds himself face to face with his own robotic arch-nemesis, Zurg. As they battle in an elevator shaft, Zurg reveals an extremely similar truth bomb to Buzz, changing the nature of their relationship forever. If only Luke and Vader could have taken time for a little father-son bonding – as opposed to a lightsaber duel to the death.
7. ROBOT CHICKEN (2005 – present)
One of the most appealing factors in the cult of STAR WARS is its collectible merchandise. What childhood from the last thirty years was complete without the possession of at least some STAR WARS toys? Be it a one-armed Ewok or half-chewed Wookie, most kids have laid their hands on the odd action figure, or heard stories of the elusive boxed AT-AT and rocket-firing Boba Fett. Yep, STAR WARS toys have always been big news, so it’s fitting than ROBOT CHICKEN should use the vast range of figures and vehicles available in spoofing our favourite intergalactic civil war.
Screening special episodes dedicated to STAR WARS, ROBOT CHICKEN takes an inventive look at its iconic moments and characters. Highlights include an AT-AT driver’s surprise at the arrival of Luke’s grenade (whilst sat upon the toilet), Luke and Palpatine’s ‘Yo Mama’ showdown, and the Cloud City weather report.
6. SOUTH PARK (1997 – Present)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have had great fun satirizing whatever and whomever they feel like, always to hilarious effect. And poor old George Lucas has been no exception, having his meddlesome ways sent up in various SOUTH PARK episodes, including ‘Free Hat’ and ‘The China Probrem’. Even Lucas’s greatest-ever creation, ol’ Vader himself, became the victim of a SOUTH PARK style spoofing in the infamous ‘The Return of Chef’.
Following the departure of Issac Hayes after the controversy of Scientology satire ‘Trapped in the Closet’, SOUTH PARK regular Chef found himself brainwashed by the paedophilic Super Adventure Club (draw your own conclusion about any subtext here), covered in his own faeces, and torn apart by wild animals. But it seems that this was far from the end for the lovable Chef, as the Super Adventure Club retrieved his body, and brought him back to life as ‘Darth Chef’, complete with a Spatula Saber – ‘Noooooooooooo!’
5. JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (2001)
Kevin Smith pretty much made a career out of talking pop culture, and more specifically, STAR WARS. His films are littered with references to the original trilogy, most notably CHASING AMY’s Hooper delivering an analysis of racial prejudice in the ‘holy trilogy’.
As Smith’s movies came full circle for the self-indulgent JAY & SILENT BOB, reuniting almost every character from his previous films, it was only natural that STAR WARS should make an appearance.
Featuring a rare live-action role for Mark Hamill (as the villainous Cock-Knocker), viewers were treated to a full-blown lightsaber battle between the former Jedi Knight and Bluntman and Chronic (Jay and Silent Bob’s superhero alter-egos). Lowbrow as it may be, Hamill’s giant cock-knocking fist and Jay’s bong-toking powers raise a smile every time.
4. HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX (1993)
Long before the Wayans turned the spoof movie into the dullest and most predictable of comedy genres, Jim Abrahams directed inspired and hilarious parodies that deliver to this day. Following the success of AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN, Abrahams brought us the HOT SHOTS! series.
Though HOT SHOTS! belongs to Hollywood bad-boy Charlie Sheen, some of the finest moments come from Lloyd Bridges as Admiral (latterly President) ‘Tug’ Benson. As PART DEUX climaxes, Benson finds himself engaged in a lightsaber fight with none other than the scourge of the Middle East himself, Saddam Hussein. But the power of the Dark Side remains no match for cinema’s greatest-ever President – his skin is made of asbestos, after all – and Saddam is slain in the closing moments. What a shame George W. never considered the lightsaber option – your powers are weak, old man…
3. SPACED (1999 – 2001)
STAR WARS gave birth to a whole generation of uber-geeks, so it’s most appropriate that SPACED, TV’s ultimate nerd-fest, should find itself placed in this list. Carving its whole narrative structure from parodies and in-jokes, it’s no surprise that alpha-geeks Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright should slip in at least a few references from a galaxy far, far away. Amongst the best of these include Tim’s (Pegg) firing following a PHANTOM MENACE-based incident at work.
The most definitive, however, comes after the dog-knapping of Daisy’s terrier, Colin. With all hope lost and a treacherous journey ahead of them, Tim and Daisy wrap their arms around each other and peer into the night, a moment that bears more than a passing resemblance to the climax of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
2. FAMILY GUY (1999 – Present)
Another successful TV show to make use of pop-cultural references, FAMILY GUY made a huge impact on viewers with its STAR WARS parody episodes ‘Blue Harvest’ and ‘Something, Something, Something Dark Side’. Fusing obscure references from STAR WARS lore (the title ‘Blue Harvest’, for instance) and popular FAMILY GUY characters (the Giant Chicken as Boba Fett), the episodes were a big hit with STAR WARS and FAMILY GUY fans alike. After all, who can deny the appeal of the ultra-sexy Lois in Princess Leia getup, or the dastardly Stewie as a tiny Vader-like villain? With the third installment of the ‘Laugh It Up, Fuzzball’ trilogy set to hit shelves this week, its possible that FAMILY GUY could give Lucas’s original trilogy a run for its money as most popular of all time.
1. STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANOM MENACE (1999)
George Lucas is a comedy genius. After leaving us on the edge of our cinema seats for sixteen years, Lucas sidestepped all expectations by presenting us with one of the greatest parodies ever. After all those years, we were expecting badass Jedis, a dark and troubled Anakin, and a gripping storyline. Imagine the hilarity as the sly old bugger concocted a right old jape, delivering ponytail-wearing Jedis, an annoying tweener Anakin, and a plot that revolved around a taxation dispute. How we laughed! And how about Jar Jar? George’s eyes must have lit up in comedic delight as he thought up the character that would put the Ewok’s popularity (or lack of it) to shame. Well done, George – you’ve had a good old joke at our expense, now let’s have the real deal. Oh, hang on…