• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #157: Dark Helmet


Yes...that.

Satire movies are really a hit or miss phenomenon, with most winding up firmly in the miss column. For every Naked Gun or Airplane! there are ten Scary Movies. Spaceballs, while imperfect, lines up with the winners. It's funny, at times hilarious, and has firmly lodged itself in our generational constellation of cult classics. My favorite scenes and lines come from Dark Helmet, the beautiful intersection of Darth Vader and Rick Moranis.

My favorite Moranis is probably Louis Tully, the gloriously awkward Keymaster in Ghostbusters. But Dark Helmet is a very close second. Moranis plays Helmet as the straight man surrounded by farce, as if he can't understand how he was sucked into this nonsense. And yet sucked in he is, at ludicrous speed. The film gives him more than his share of memorable quotes, and he delivers them with the frenetic desperation of a man surrounded by assholes. There's a meta-awareness to Dark Helmet, as though he knows he's not the hero of the picture and it drives him nuts (and to force-squeeze the nuts of incompetent underlings). Despite his destined failure, he still puts his faith in the down side of the Schwartz, coining the immortal maxim that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

Spaceballs is dumb, too, and it's good, so maybe he has a point.

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