Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cloning Star Wars: Nine Best Spoofs

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is in theaters, with some critics carping that it is almost a parody of the original live-action films. Which led us to think: Are there better parodies of George Lucas' influential saga out there?

Yes the answer is, as Yoda himself might say. Herewith a list of the top nine Star Wars spoofs from film, television and other media.

1. Clerks, film, available on DVD. Perhaps the most eloquent Star Wars geek on record, director Kevin Smith crafted dialogue about the issue of contract labor on the second Death Star in Star Wars: Episode VI--Return of the Jedi. Collateral damage or deserving collaborators? The debate rages on.

2. Spaceballs, film, available on DVD. Mel Brooks aimed his blaster at the first Star Wars and other SF films. Spaceballs mimics famous scenes and characters in extreme and ridiculous ways, making fun of merchandising and the famous plot twists of the series. (This story continues below the image.)

3. "Stephen Colbert's Green Screen Challenge," featured on The Colbert Report. In 2006, Colbert filmed a segment of himself mimicking the lightsaber moves of disgraced high schooler Ghyslain Raza--the infamous YouTube "Star Wars kid"--then invited his fans to improve it. Creative fans placed Colbert in battles with Darth Maul, opening a door for George W. Bush and dancing in silhouette in an iPod ad parody. Lucasfilm itself eventually contributed an entry in which Colbert destroys all the droids from the opening of Revenge of the Sith. The winner turned Colbert into a video game.

4. Family Guy: Blue Harvest, available on DVD. The Fox animated show has managed to insert a Star Wars joke in almost every episode. But in 2007, it finally went one better, with an hourlong episode dedicated to the movie. A follow-up, based on Star Wars: Episode V--The Empire Strikes Back, is already on track for next season.

5. Troops, short film, available at Animator Kevin Rubio's short film melds Fox's reality series Cops with Imperial stormtroopers on Tatooine. The film's deadpan accurate take on both franchises raises disturbing questions: What if Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and not the stormtroopers, had destroyed themselves? Setting a Jawa's head on fire was pretty sweet, too.

6. "Jedi Knights Sex Scandal," Chappelle's Show sketch. Comedian Dave Chappelle's sketch featured a 60 Minutes-style news crew investigating a sex scandal among the Jedi knights. Poor Darth Vader, shown in silhouette to protect his identity, admitted being molested. The piece was a knowing satire of both Lucas and the Catholic Church sex scandals.

7. The Star Wars Gangsta Rap. Internet animated music video, available on The first winner of the Audience Choice Award in the Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, this video used the hip-hop idiom to retell the saga's story, changing up the rap and melody as needed. The animation is adorable, especially in the "Special Edition" enhanced version, and the tune is just catchy. Try not to sing, "I'm your father, I'm your father" in rhythm after you hear this.

8. "Star Wars Auditions," Saturday Night Live sketch, first aired Jan. 11, 1997. Kevin Spacey as Christopher Walken reading for the role of Han Solo. Darrell Hammond as Richard Dreyfuss in C-3PO's gold armor. Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds as Darth Vader and Ana Gasteyer as Barbra Streisand as Princess Leia. 'Nuff said.

9. Robot Chicken: Star Wars. TV special. A collection of Star Wars-themed sketches from the stop-motion-animated show featured Emperor Palpatine mocking Darth Vader after the destruction of the Death Star and Lucas riding a nerd through a convention crowd. And that's really Lucas' voice. --Fred Topel

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