ABB link-up: the book or the movie?

I’ve talked a lot over the years about books and movies. There is a large amount of cross-over, books that have been made into movies and movies that have been made into books. I’ve written much about books made into movies over the five years I’ve been blogging but not much on the second category.

In the main the movies that have been turned into books have been to try and cash in on the hype, to try and make more money. The companies seem to have seen there is a cash cow and wanted in on that. If you look at Star Wars for instance you’ll find many, many books have been written (and lots of other merchandise created) some to detail what’s already been filmed and others to expand the universe. I could mention other series or movies that have done the same: Buffy; Star Trek; Doctor Who; Finding Nemo; Big Hero 6 (in fact, many of the Disney movies) and; the lots, lots more (meaning I can’t be bothered finding any more for you).

There is one exception I have in mind and that’s Spaceballs by Mel Brooks. Brooks is a once in a lifetime person, like the late, great Robin Williams. His works are hilarious and there is always a message in there somewhere…generally he’s making fun of the genre he’s portraying. He and Buck Henry are an awesome team, if you’re wondering who Buck Henry is then you need to watch the credits for Get Smart and Captain Nice and then wonder about the similarity of the two series. Get Smart is one of those brilliant spoofs that we keep watching forever and ever, there are catch phrases which have made it into popular conversation ‘missed me by that much’ or ‘I asked you not to tell me that’. Brooks helps to bring yiddish into common domain by using yiddish words within his movies, not talking down to the viewer with them but in most instances expecting the context to explain the words. The exception to this is in Blazing Saddles when the Native American (played by Brooks) yells out something in Yiddish, I have no idea what it is but I’ve seen teenage Jewish boys convulse with laughter at this scene.

Blazing Saddles by the brilliant Mel Brooks
Blazing Saddles by the brilliant Mel Brooks

Going back to Spaceballs. It lampoons many space movies such as Star Wars  and Planet of the Apes and it does a brilliant job. There’s one scene where Brooks opens a cupboard and displays the merchandise not available for sale, he was told he could do the movie so long as he didn’t do any merchandise with it so he lampooned that agreement by putting it in the movie.

Spaceballs the Movie
Spaceballs The Book. Don’t ask me, I found this photo on my computer…I blame Mel Brooks.
Spaceballs on DVD. This is my copy, you can’t have it.

And it appears it may be possible to buy the DVD of Spaceballs with Angus & Robertson. It’s worth it. If you have teenage boys it’s definitely worth it or anyone who likes humour and plays on words. Brooks is like me, he plays with words that fact that he’s ever so much better at it than me is telling.

Edit: Seeing this is part of a Blog Hop I should probably link back to the originating blog so you can see all of our thoughts.


6 thoughts on “ABB link-up: the book or the movie?

  1. Deborah

    Oh, I love Spaceballs, though it’s ages since I’ve seen it. And Get Smart certainly led the way for spy spoofs! Obviouslyssomething Buck Henry had a knack for!

    Thanks for joining the link-up today!


    1. mattling

      I now have the Spaceballs DVD on my desk, I really should put it away before I get distracted and slip it into my DVD drive.

      Thanks for getting us started! I’ve edited to put a link back to your blog as I suspect I should have done in the first place.

  2. Jessica

    I’ve never seen Spaceballs *hangs head in shame* I also didn’t know it was based on a book *hangs head even further in shame* I will have to look into both though 🙂

    1. mattling

      Well, that’s a pleasure you have in store for you.

      I suspect it was the other way round and the book was written after the movie.

  3. Danny

    I have Spaceballs: The Book (and the DVD, of course.) The book is a novelisation of the movie, but it contains at least one joke that didn’t make it to the screen – but it would have been a good bit.

    Near the start, when we first meet Lone Starr in the flying Winnebago, he’s asleep at the console, and the phone is ringing. In the book, he picks it up after a few rings, and says “Hello, you’ve reached Lone Starr. We can’t come to the phone right now, so please leave a message after the belch.” at which points he burps into the receiver and hangs up. The scene then proceeds as per the movie with the phone ringing again, and Lone Starr calling for Barf to answer it.

    I always thought it was good when a movie novelisation gave a /little/ bit extra than what the movie did, or did some scenes in different ways due to the change of media.

    Another example is the novelisation of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. In the film, there’s a sequence where the Gremlins take over the cinema in which you are watching the movie (or the TV in the VHS version), and there’s some clips from various films with Gremlins inserted in them – eventually John Wayne (in the VHS/DVD version) defeats the Gremlins and the movie plot continues.

    In the novelisation, there’s a chapter at that point told from the perspective of the Brain Gremlin, who has (along with his compatriots) tied up the novel-writer and taken over the keyboard where the book is being written. It’s quite a clever way to represent the movie scene in a way that makes sense for book readers.

    1. mattling

      That’s all pretty awesome. I’ve only seen Gremlins once a very long time ago, probably in the cinema so would have all these fantastic extras.

      I’ve always said they made the extras especially for people like me. Like you I watch as many of them as I can.

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