There are few franchises that are as loved and venerated by fans as Star Wars. Star Trek and Harry Potter are candidates, but Star Wars fandom fits into a unique category. Like most things that attract a cult-like following, the more people who are devoted to the topic, the more enjoyable others find poking fun at it. With hundreds of characters, six movies, and 38 years since the first film, there is ample ammunition for jokes, satire and outright parody.
In the case of Star Wars and its parodies, the laughs aren’t always at the expense of George Lucas’ creation. Some parodies act as recaps, others as reimaginings, and mostly they are both amateur and professional fan creations paying respect to a beloved set of films in the way they know how, through comedy. Most of them, however, are loving homages to the films.
It’s only a matter of time before someone releases a parody of The Force Awakens in the vein of Scary Movie. However, even when this unfortunate event happens, you can rely on Screen Rant’s 10 Best Star Wars Parodies for your Skywalker-themed laughs.
10. Toy Story 2
An extremely short scene, this Toy Story 2 homage to The Empire Strikes Back is high quality, and while not shot for shot, the fact that CGI toys can capture the feeling of the original scene is still astounding.
To set the stage, it should be explained that Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a television show within the Toy Story universe. In the show, Buzz Lightyear does battle with the evil Emporer Zurg, who is trying to build a planet-destroying weapon. Sound like anyone familiar?
So, when toy Buzz (Tim Allen), with an updated version of himself, and the rest of Andy’s toys track down the abducted Woody (Tom Hanks), they’ve also been followed by the arch enemy of the space ranger. The new Lightyear faces off with the toy version of Zurg (Andrew Stanton), allowing Buzz to go after his cowboy friend. When Zurg has the new Buzz just about beaten, he reveals the truth to the space commander, uttering the famous line, “I am your father.”
9. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Premiering the same summer as The Phantom Menace, The Spy Who Shagged Me capitalized on the pre-primed audience with some Star Wars references in both the film and the marketing material leading up to it.
With Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) having been in stasis throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his lack of cultural knowledge is a comedic post leaned on heavily throughout the Austin Power Series. When he decides to place a laser on the Moon, unfortunately, he not only decides to name the whole project the Alan Parsons Project, but also refers to the laser enabled Moon as a “Death Star.”
Later in the film, when the bad doctor faces off against the titular Austin Powers (Myers), the ever popular Vader-Luke father scene is referenced. With Dr. Evil later revealed to be Powers’ brother in the 3rd flick, Goldmember, there is little accuracy in the statement. However, it does work in relation the space motif throughout the movie.
Acknowledging it was up against major competition, the Mike Meyers film was also marketed with a smart teaser aimed at fans of both franchises. With some great camera work and narration, the trailer raises and dashes Star Wars hopes early on, yet gives props to the new George Lucas movie and a strong recommendation by the end.
8. George Lucas in Love
Instead of injecting wackiness into the galaxy far, far away, George Lucas in Love brings that universe to 1967 USC. The short film focuses on a dramatized version of a young George Lucas, a case of writer’s block and somewhat terrible early drafts.
However, due to some enigmatic and familiar characters around campus, including a stoner talking about a cosmic force, a wheezing dark cloaked nemesis, and a love interest with Princess Leia style hair, the bearded writer is given the inspiration needed to revise and complete what we now know as Star Wars.
Partially benefiting because of its release date, a month after the release of The Phantom Menace, Joe Nussbaum’s cute eight-minute film was shown at film festivals internationally and helped make a name for the young director in Hollywood. The real George Lucas even wrote Nussbaum to congratulate him on the movie.
7. Robot Chicken – “Star Wars Episode III”
The Family Guy “Laugh It Up Fuzzball” trilogy often gets more attention than its comedic older cousin, but Robot Chicken‘s own Star Wars-themed episodes shot first. However, less focused on the retelling of the story in at least the first two attempts, and aired on the Cartoon Network instead FOX, the Robot Chicken trilogy is now relegated to an afterthought for many.
Holding true to the show’s short clip format, with toys replacing actors or animation, Episode III knocks out some great quick laughs, tied together as a sequence of the final thoughts as The Emperor falls to his death.
The 3rd Star Wars-flavored episode does give a rare extended length version of Robot Chicken, increased from a standard 11 to 45 minutes. A particular bright spot is that these special episodes feature the actual voices of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C3PO, Lando Calrissian, Jar Jar Binks, and George Lucas himself.
6. Weird Al Yankovic – “The Saga Begins”
In 1999, Phantom Menace fever was in the air, and Weird Al Yankovic did an amazing job of capturing the magic. Having permission to use the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, Yankovic used online leaks and an advanced charity screening to get very accurate plot details to write a ballad recounting the film’s story.
Recorded on April 20th, over a month before the film was released, “The Saga Begins” was the lead single for Al’s Running with Scissors album, and hit number 20 on the Billboard digital comedy tracks chart.
Not that George Lucas needed the confirmation, but there is an adage in Hollywood that you haven’t made it until Weird Al has parodied you. However, in the case of the Star Wars saga, “The Saga Begins” is just an exclamation point to that statement. In 1985, on the Dare to Be Stupid album, Weird Al released “Yoda” his Empire Strikes Back themed parody of The Kinks song “Lola.”
The darkest, saddest item on the list, Fanboys is more of a dramedy about Star Wars fandom. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1999, Star Wars fan Linus (Chris Marquette) convinces his friends Hutch (Dan Fogler), Windows (Jay Baruchel) & Bottler (Sam Huntington) to accompany him for one last mission, to Skywalker Ranch.
With the objective to let Linus see the not yet released Phantom Menace before he dies, the boys criss-cross the country, testing their commitment to the goal, their friends, and the series itself. In particular, their incitement of and feud with a rival group of Trekkies, led by Seth Rogen, shows how deep that fandom runs.
Peppered with fan and celebrity cameos including Rogen, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and William Shatner, Fanboys carries out what it seeks to deliver, a movie about fans by fans, and leaves us with a question that echos to this day: “What if it sucks?”
Kevin Smith is a huge Star Wars fan, and his movies are ripe with references to the film series. Along with a classic debate in Clerks over the number of contractors who were killed when the Death Star II was destroyed, Mallrats allows Smith to directly reference the Star Wars universe multiple times throughout the film.
With pals TS Quint (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) getting their hearts stomped on, they seek out solace at the mall. Meeting classic Mallrats Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), the guys are faced with the challenge of holding on to their girls while also holding on to the mall they know and love.
In quietly dedicated contemplation, the stoic stoner Silent Bob spends a large part of the film practicing his force powers attempting the move a cigarette with his mind. Trapped and dangling high over a stage, Bob gives the Force one last try, using it to push a sex tape into a VCR to save the day.
3. Hardware Wars
A New Hope is famously noted for simple techniques being used to create futuristic effects.
However, compared to how Hardware Wars was made, these are cutting edge technologies. For example, when creators needed a stand-in for a space ship? An iron on a string. A light saber? A flashlight and a fog machine. Alderaan? A basketball. Who can’t help but love the Wookiee Monster eating the real cinnamon buns from off of the side of the Princess’ head?
Hardware Wars is the original sweded trailer, made to look terrible, yet telling a close enough story with many scenes replicated, albeit with less accurate detail. Fans loved the parody, and with a budget of only $8,000, the short film ended up earning over $1,000,000. George Lucas famously noted that this ultra lo-fi roast of Episode IV is his favorite Star Wars parody of all time.
With Mel Brooks leading the film as writer, director, and actor, it’s no wonder that Spaceballs is not just regarded as a fantastic Star Wars parody, but one of the best parody movies in general. Having already made Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and History of the World Part I, Brooks was practiced and well poised to produce a hit with this sci-fi homage.
Bill Pullman stars as Lone Star, a Han Solo type character recruited to save the Druish Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). With the cast rounded out by comedy icons including Joan Rivers, Dick Van Patten, John Candy, and Brooks himself as both the Evil President Skroob and Yogurt, Lone Star’s spiritual guide, Space Balls introduced some classic quotable lines like “Use the Schwartz!” and “What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?”
While not subtle nor complex in its humor, Spaceballs does have a story, with nonstop laughs. With dirtier jokes hidden in clever wordplay, this movie was a must see for teenage audiences in 1987, and still has a considerable cult following with both comedy and Star Wars fans.
1. Family Guy – “Blue Harvest”
While Spaceballs may have done a fantastic parody of Star Wars as a genre, Seth MacFarlane went directly to the source and received Lucasfilm permission to retell and ridicule the story directly. Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) and family have been thrice cast in the retellings of the original Star Wars trilogy, yet it’s the first outing the remains most memorable to this day.
Taking the characters out of their regular roles in the family, but holding on to their personalities, the Family Guy season six premiere was able to accurately depict both A New Hope and a Family Guy story. With evil baby genius Stewie playing Darth Vader, it’s up to Chris as Luke Skywalker, Lois as Princess Leia, Brian as Chewbacca, and Peter as the rogue Han Solo to defeat him. Even Cleveland, Quagmire, Mayor West, and even Mr. Herbert all have important roles to play in the action.
Along with introducing general pop culture absurdity, the episode also skewered the Star Wars films and Family Guy itself, pointing out weak plot points items (Han using Parsec improperly as a unit of time, not distance), logical errors (Space station with no rails?), and Family Guy’s lack of originality, with Chris (Seth Green) noting that Robot Chicken, Green’s Adult Swim show in real life, had already done a Star Wars parody.
Can you think of any other Star Wars parodies that deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments!