May 4, 2013 at 10:02 AM ET
Early May? Check. "Star Wars" obsession? Check and re-check. That's right, it's the fourth day in May -- which in recent years has come to be known as an unofficial "Star Wars" holiday, as in "May the Fourth be with you," a play on "May the Force be with you," the franchise's key tagline.
There's a whole history as to how "force" became "fourth," and may or may not include Margaret Thatcher and a poor German translation of a George Lucas interview. However it came about, May 4 is now considered "Star Wars Day" by fans of the films, and this year, Disney's Hollywood Studios will even be celebrating the holiday with a party.
But here's another reason to celebrate this pun-tastic day -- with a look at four of our favorite "Star Wars" parodies. Sure, there have been thousands, but only four may be chosen. May these four be with you.
Put Mel Brooks in charge of "Star Wars" and invariably, it'll be the Schwartz that's with you. Rick Moranis stars in the 1987 satire, wearing a giant helmet and speaking without any particular resonance to his voice. Apparently Planet Spaceball is losing all of its air, and the president (played by Brooks, who also shows up as "Yogurt," the wisdom-dispensing sage who speaks in a Yiddish accent) has a plan to steal the air and kidnap Princess Vespa. It's typical Brooksian borscht belt-flavored madness and features John Candy (as Barfolomew) in fuzzy ears. Oy!
Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) showed up as a thoroughly wimpy version of himself in a 1998 episode, in which Homer became a bodyguard after saving him and Mayor Quimby from being trampled. Later, when mob henchman Louie went after the Mayor, Hamill urged Homer to "use the forks" to save the mayor again. Once the mayor is safe, Homer was able to carry Hamill to safety, even running back to retrieve his light saber, all to the tune of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," from her movie "The Bodyguard."
Liz Lemon (and therefore the NBC series "30 Rock") loved, loved, loved "Star Wars." So much so that Lemon (played by Tina Fey) seemed to always be putting on her Princess Leia costume -- she referred to wearing it on multiple Halloweens (as an adult, mind), used it to try and escape jury duty -- and in the series' final episode even wore it as a wedding dress. But Liz wasn't alone -- Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) memorably ran down the highway in his underpants and sneakers during the show's pilot, shouting that he was a Jedi.
Perhaps the least well-known of the "Star Wars" parodies here, it was the first. The extremely low-budget ($8,000), 12-minute "trailer" for a film called "Hardware Wars" premiered in theaters in 1977 (a "special edition" expanded to 13-odd minutes came out in 1997) and is essentially a parody of the film's plot. In "Hardware Wars," the spacecraft (and some "drones") were household appliances, Chewbacca was a brown-colored hand puppet, and the characters were named "Ham Salad" or "Fluke Starbucker," while "Princess Anne-Droid," wore bread rolls on the sides of her head. It even earned George Lucas' seal of approval; first, he didn't sue -- and second, he called it a "cute little film."
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