If you are familiar with filmmaker Mel Brooks then you probably understand his kind of nonsensical humor. Well twenty-five years ago he made a film called Spaceballs and it’s available on Blu-ray. This 25th Anniversary edition has several hours of bonus features, most of which will tantalize Brooks’ fans.
At the center of it all is a screwball movie, a take-off if you will of Star Wars that Brooks aptly names Spaceballs. It was a gutsy move on the part of Brooks making a parody of one of the all time space genre film series, so one can say the Director/Writer had a lot of ‘chutzpah’ making fun of such a ‘serious’ sci-fi adventure. But, being it comes from one of the best copycat moviemakers the industry has ever known (High Anxiety based on Vertigo, and Young Frankenstein for example), not one peep was heard in the press from George Lucas probably because he was laughing too hard.
The often funny mostly stupid and yes oddball Spaceballs does have a plot. In a galaxy far far away, the lovely Druish Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of the planet Druidia has been forced into a wedding with a nerdy prince of a neighboring planet. On that fateful day, Vespa decides to desert her betrothed leaving him at the alter and make haste in her Mercedes space cruiser. In the meantime President Skroob (Mel Brooks) of an evil starship has been floating in space in the hopes he can kidnap Vespa and lay claim to Druidia.
As absurd fate would have it Vespa’s Mercedes breaks down just within striking distance of Skroob’s ship captained by Lord Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) who makes an attempt to scoop her up. Trying to find his daughter King Rolland (Dick Van Patten) contacts Captain Lone Star (Bill Pullman) to rescue her. When the fearless space pirate makes a try to rescue the princess the story starts tumbling in 0 gravity.
One of my all time favorite comedians the late John Candy plays the role of a wild wookiee dog with the name Barf. He’s a looney tune sidekick that keeps Lone Starr on the right track. It’s fun to see him clowning to Brooks’ devilishly funny script. Also in support is the voice of Joan Rivers as Dot Matrix, a female android fashioned to look like C-3PO with some very snappy commentary in her classic irritable style.
Making the whole nonsense space story work is Rick Moranis who plays the Lord Dark Helmet. In this Star Wars parody however he’s more of a stumbling numbskull that does more damage to himself than to his rivals. Brooks’ script has him doing some wacky things like using his spaceballs action figure puppets to create a fantasy sex scene.
The Blu-ray has some very good special features including:
- Farce Yourself! Spaceballs and the Skroobing of Sci-Fi Featurette provides a look at Mel Brooks explaining why he made the film, his cast and how bold to ask George Lucas to use his Industrial Light and Magic special effects.
- John Candy: Comic Spirit Featurette, a touching tribute to the late comedian and worth the value of the blu-ray.
- Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed Featurette- This little tool lets you see the whole film in a matter of seconds. If you play it more than once you need a vacation at the funny farm.
- Commentary by Mel Brooks, you can turn this on after you have watched the film for more of his antics.
- Additional Commentary Tracks: Mawgese and Dinkese
- Spaceballs: The Documentary Featurette may be a little too ingratiating, but still worth a look.
- In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan Featurette, in this little gem we hear how the writers worked “together” to get the script written.
- Trailers: Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks Introduction and Theatrical Trailer
- Storyboards-to-Film Comparison
- The Behind-the-Movie Photos: If you are into costumes and movie stills than you may want to watch this feature that includes- Spaceballs: The Costume Gallery and Spaceballs: The Art Gallery
- Film Flubs: Take you on a quick journey of mistakes made in the film, most of which I believe were intentional.
The Sound quality is par for a Blu-ray presentation played on a HD Television. The audio on the disc Dolby Digital Stereo, DTS-ES 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio, English, French, Spanish pushes the sound to its limit.
Video quality has been enhanced from the original DVD release to Blu-ray HD showing an enjoyable sharp picture. The very fine 1080p presentation with the 1.85:1 ratio is more than can be expected considering being transferred from the 25-year-old print. The color is extremely good; especially the earth tones in the desert scenes and the ILM special effects.
The only downside comes with the fact that if you have already purchased the 2005 release on Blu-ray, then as for quality, you won’t see much change. Those who are purchasing the movie for the first time are in for a real treat.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A classic fit for any sci-fi or comedy library, “May the ‘Schwartz’ be with you.”
Specifications and additional Blu-ray information:
- Cast: Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, John Candy, Mel Brooks, Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis
- Directed by: Mel Brooks
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Genre: Comedy
- Running Time: 1 hr 36 min
- Street Date: August 7, 2012
- Original Theatrical Release Date: June 24, 1987
- Language: English
- Format: Blu-ray disc
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo, DTS-ES 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio, English, French, Spanish
- Video: 1.85:1 (Theatre Wide Screen), Color, Enhanced Wide Screen Letterbox for 16×9 TV
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
- Number of Discs: 1 disc
- Distributed by: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment