Plot: What’s it about?
This is a tale of intergalactic heroics, adventure that spans the entire solar system and beyond, bravery above and beyond the call of duty, and merchandising anything and everything in sight to turn a buck. When Spaceball City is running out of usable air to breathe, those in command decide to kidnap the princess of Druidia, and use her as leverage to steal all of the air found there. As such, Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), the most evil one of all, is sent to take the princess captive, but things don’t go exactly to plan. With a reward of one million space bucks to the person (or alien, or whatever) who brings the princess home, Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) sees a chance to raise the funds to pay off the vile Pizza the Hut, to whom he is in debted. With his Winnebago in top form, and his copilot Barf (John Candy) by his side, Starr is ready to complete this mission, and become a free man once again. But this mission won’t be easy, with the princess’ overly talkative robot Dot Matrix (Joan Rivers) and the princess’ unholy amount of luggage slowing them down, and Dark Helmet’s forces in hot pursuit. But with a little luck, and the advice of the sage Yogurt (Mel Brooks), the rogue troupe just might be able to save Druidia after all.
As is the tradition with the films of Mel Brooks’, Spaceballs take a genre, exposes the devices and conventions it uses, and exploits them to hilarious ends. In Blazing Saddles, the western genre was spoofed, while Young Frankenstein took aim at the horror genre. In this film, science fiction movies are in the hot seat, and the genre is skewered at almost every turn, but in a loving fashion, not a spiteful one. Some hilarious aspects of motion pictures in general are also explored and satirized, including stunt doubles and merchandising. From the plot synopsis and characters, you might think the only science fiction staple parodied is Star Wars, but that is far from the truth. Several other sci/fi series’ are mocked, including some gut busting stabs at Alien and Star Trek. You’ll never watch the chestbursting scene in Alien quite the same after this movie. From dialogue jokes to outrageous sight gags, the comedy spectrum is fully explored, and the result is one hilarious movie, especially if you love, or hate science fiction. This Blu-ray disc is the best version of Spaceballs out there, a release no fan should be without.
Mel Brooks is the force behind this film, as he served as cowriter, director, and even actor for a couple different roles. Brooks is a comedic genius, who has a series of movies that serve as spoofs on entire genres, exposing and exploiting the conventions of those genres. Brooks’ films have a torrid pace, with jokes and gags at a rapid fire rate, which keeps the movies flowing well. While his more recent movies have been a cut below his usual work, they’re still funny, just not as funny. Other Brooks classics include Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, Blazing Saddles, Life Stinks, and History Of The World: Part One. Brooks also serves as composer at times, creating the Spaceballs song, and the unforgettable Jews In Space from History of the World. Brooks also stars in most of his films, this one being no exception. Here he stars as President Skroob and the venerable Yogurt, playing both with energy and intense humor. The rest of the cast includes Bill Pullman (Lake Placid, Brokedown Palace), Michael Winslow (Police Academy), Joan Rivers (Serial Mom), Jm J. Bullock (Tv’s The Hollywood Squares), Dick Van Patten (The Shaggy D.A., Soylent Green), Daphne Zuniga (Vision Quest), Rick Moranis (Big Bully, Honey I Shrunk The Kids), and comedic great John Candy (Uncle Buck, Canadian Bacon).
Video: How does it look?
Spaceballs is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wasn’t expecting much from this transfer, but I was pleased to find a sharp, clean visual effort. This is miles better than the DVD, with a crisper, more refined image that never disappoints. The film’s assorted locales provide a varied spectrum of visuals, all of which are well handled here. The colors look great, contrast is smooth, and detail is terrific, much clearer than previous editions. This is simply great work and fans will be thrilled.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Schwartz is strong with this DTS HD 5.1 option, as it sounds great. This won’t blow the doors down, but the mix is active and provides a rock solid experience. The surround use is frequent and natural, so this isn’t one of those remixes that sounds forced, just the opposite. As I said, there isn’t a lot of power, but there is presence and it adds a lot to the atmosphere. The music is crystal clear and of course, dialogue is spot on. This disc also includes a stereo soundtrack, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, and Hungarian language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, German, Italian, and Hungarian.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras kick off with an audio commentary session, the same one as the previous releases, as Mel Brooks discusses the production. As I said before, Brooks is not the best person for these tracks, but he is better than usual on this one. He provides some decent information, but burns a lot of silence and perhaps another speaker could have worked wonders. You can also watch the film in “ludicrous speed,” with a run time of about half a minute. A half hour featurette starts off disc two, as most of the cast and crew sits down to talk about Spaceballs. I always like to learn how the stars look back on their movies, so this was a nice piece that focused on memories and stories from the shoot. Brooks returns in an interview with cowriter Thomas Meehan, in which the two touch on the writing process. This release also includes a guide to some of the film’s mistakes, storyboard to film comparisons, a nice selection of production photos and artwork, a tribute to John Candy, and the film’s theatrical trailer. A second disc offers a DVD version of the film, which is a nice inclusion.