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. I recommend this movie and disc highly, as I consider this, and all Brooks films, a comedy masterpiece.
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 a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. A full frame version, which is an open matte transfer, is included on the other side of the disc. The print is clean, with little flecks to be found, and compression errors are minimal, although some scenes have some distracting edge enhancement and moire patterns. But these are minor quibbles, and the overall image is great. Colors are rich and vivid, free from all but minor distortion, and flesh tones are natural as well. Contrast is sometime a little soft, but to a distracting degree.
Audio: How does it sound?
This uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track to replicate the audio, and is above and beyond what I expected. The surrounds are used all the time, with all manner of explosions and blasts searing through your system. The dialogue does not drown in all that though, and it sounds crisp and clear, with no volume issues at all.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains all the goodies found the previous laserdisc release. You’ll find the original theatrical trailer, a behind the scenes featurette that runs about nine minutes in duration, and an audio commentary track by director Mel Brooks. While Brooks doesn’t provide much in the way of technical or behind the scenes information, he is funny to listen to, so the track is worth a listen for fans of the movie. While these supplements are just ported from the laserdisc release, I am pleased to see them make the transition to this format. You’ll also find some production notes inside the