While Mel Brook’s films have all reached a certain level of popularity over the years, there are a few that it seems that everyone has seen…Spaceballs being one of them. The 1987 parody of Star Wars was a bit late to the party, arriving four years after Return of the Jedi debuted, but nonetheless something that was easily accessible by all those who had been going to the theater for the past ten years when Spaceballs debuted. The material it spoofed was obvious, but it was this easy accessibility that made it such a riot to watch and with a cast that included Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Bill Pullman, this will forever remain one of Brooks’s most hilarious and memorable films.
The farce is with you in this “uproarious salute to science fiction” (The Hollywood Reporter) that teams comedy legend Mel Brooks with an all-star cast of cutups including John Candy (Splash), Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters) and Bill Pullman (Ruthless People)! When the evil Dark Helmet (Moranis) attempts to steal all the air from planet Druidia, a determined Druish Princess (Daphne Zuniga), a clueless rogue (Pullman) and a half-man/half-dog creature who’s his own best friend (Candy) set out to stop him! But with the forces of darkness closing in on them at ludicrous speed, they’ll need the help of a wise imp named Yogurt (Brooks) and the mystical power of “The Schwartz” to bring peace and merchandising rights to the entire galaxy!
There are a few movies from my childhood that I can remember watching over and over again…and Spaceballs is one of them. I was quoting this film with extreme ease by the time I was twelve and my love of Star Wars only helped fuel the fire for the enjoyment that this film brought. Sure, each summer I’d check out Batman from the local library, but it was Spaceballs that, even in its heavily censored television airings, I’d watch year round. It’s just an easy to watch, easy to enjoy film that never once gets old. You can know every joke and every little facial expression that will occur, but it’s almost just the anticipation of the jokes that send you into riotous laughter now.
I go through daily routines now just quoting this film randomly and not even realizing it; every time someone mentions yogurt I spout off a Dark Helmet line or the idea of going out to the Lonestar steak restaurant…well, that one’s obvious. Really most of the quotable come from the Rick Moranis side of the film, as the “good guys” are never quite the hilarious jokesters that the “bad guys” are in this film. Sure, Barf makes me laugh in nearly every scene, but the whiney princess and talkative robot are almost too much at times…although still funny in their own right, of course, just not enough to really make you crumple over in laughter like Dark Helmet, what with the constant outpour of sarcastic and explicit jokes.
Which brings me to another point of the film—how the hell was this thing rated PG? I’m sure I’ve mentioned this point somewhere in the thousand other reviews I’ve written over the years, but this is one of the strangest PG movies I’ve ever seen. I mean, yeah, the ‘80s were a pretty crazy time for the MPAA, what with a lot of the John Hughes films getting ratings they didn’t really deserve either, but Spaceballs especially should’ve netted a PG-13 just for profanity alone…I mean they drop the F-bomb in it, that’s gotta warrant something higher than a PG. Plus all the other variants of dialogue they won’t even allow on a TV-14 show now…it’s just quite a filthy PG film.
Not that it really matters—Mel Brooks humor has always come with a certain edge to it, but for the most part the rest of his films have been rated appropriately (although Blazing Saddles went a bit too far in the opposite direction, as I’m not sure how that film warrants an R rating). Really it’s just another reason to love this sci-fi parody, as there is almost always something to laugh at on the screen and perhaps I’m a bit biased as this film is as old as I am and I grew up with it, but for me no matter what hilarity Mel Brooks produces, Spaceballs has and always will be my favorite parody film of all time. Highly Recommended.
Fox has released Spaceballs in a two-disc Elite Eco-Blu-ray case with all of the extras from the previous two-disc release, so those looking to upgrade will find no reason not to (unless you wanted some newer extras, in which case you’re out of luck). The set includes the Blu-ray disc inside (which boasts the same art as the front cover) and a second disc that…get this, isn’t a digital copy! Nope, the second disc is instead the double sided flipper disc from the 2000 DVD release. Yup…it even boasts the original 2000 copyright on the inner label as well, so this literally just a way for Fox to get rid of surplus discs, apparently. A nice bonus I guess…but a bit of a strange one. It does include an extra that’s not on the Blu-ray portion though, so that’s something at least…
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 1.85:1 transfer that, for a film that’s twenty-two years old, looks pretty darn good. There is some definite age to the print, but it also boasts a nice level of detail that brings forth some set details that you may not have noticed before in standard definition. Nothing major, of course, and in some cases it makes shoddy construction work on the sets more evident, but overall the transfer is a solid effort and will bring Spaceballs to the screen like you’ve never seen it. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also admirable, as even though this is a comedy film, there’s plenty of sci-fi special effects to toss around in the surrounds and whatnot. Also included is a whole slew of alternate language tracks, including a 2.0 English, 5.1 DD Spanish, Portuguese, and Hungarian, and 5.1 DTS French, German, Italian, and Castilian Spanish. Subtitles include Spanish, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Hungarian, and English.
Commentary by Mel Brooks
Additional Commentary Tracks: Mawgese & Dinkese
Spaceballs: The Documentary featurette (30:04, SD)
In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan featurette (20:30, SD)
John Candy: Comic Spirit featurette (10:02, SD)
Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed featurette (0:29, 1080p)
o Spaceballs: The Behind-the-Movie Photos
o Spaceballs: The Costume Gallery
o Spaceballs: The Art Gallery
o Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks Introduction (2:12, SD)
o Theatrical Trailer (2:30, SD)
o Edge of the Mirror
o Grabs Himself Early
o The Magic Reappearing Ring
o More Than His Head
o No End in Sight
o Track Behind Dot
Storyboards-to-Film Comparison (6:41, SD)
Special Behind-the-Scenes Footage (8:46, SD; on DVD)
That’s all the extras included and…quite frankly, it’s a lot. The commentary is well worth checking out and all of the extras are worth watching…save for that last one on the list, since it’s so old. It should also be noted that while the DVD includes both widescreen and pan and scan editions of the film, the widescreen version is not anamorphic.
Overall this release comes Highly Recommended.
Spaceballs is now available on Blu-ray.