Spaceballs holds a special place in my heart. It is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater, I was seven years old. On a whim, my dad took me to see it with him. I remember bits and pieces of the movie, I remember being so excited to actually be in a theater seeing a movie and I remember walking out in the middle of it. You see, what happened was that my dad kind of freaked out when I laughed at an inopportune moment and decided he couldn’t expose me to Mel Brooks‘ brand of humor just yet. Funny thing was, I was laughing for the wrong reason and he completely misconstrued the level at which I comprehended what was going on. The moment in question is the scene in which Mel Brooks’ President Skroob was using the facilities and Commanderette Zircon popped up on the wall to make an announcement, signing off while smirking at his manhood. I just thought it was funny they were showing him peeing, Dad thought I got the joke, and that ended things. I was horribly confused for a few years, but finally got it later and explained the whole thing to him. You better believe the first opportunity I got to see this film on VHS I took it and thought it was hilarious. As I re-watched Spaceballs throughout the years and got more and more and more of the jokes my love for the film only grew. Twenty-five years later this is still the case. May the Schwartz be with you as you read this review.
If you haven’t seen Spaceballs, you simply must do so, immediately. You can bypass renting it and just go straight to buying it, you will love it that much. Spaceballs gives us a very young and adorable Bill Pullman as Lone Starr, captain of the Winnebago and Barf, Lone Starr’s loyal Mog (half man half dog) sidekick played by John Candy. They have been commissioned by Dick Van Patton‘s King Roland to save his daughter Princess Vespa, played by Daphne Zuniga, along with her own robotic chastity belt, Dot Matrix, voiced by none other than the iconic Joan Rivers. The four are relentlessly hunted down by Dark Helmet, played by quintessential eighties actor, Rick Moranis and Mel Brooks doing double duty as President Skroob and Yogurt. Brooks plays up all the Star War’s characters strongest features to a comical degree with each of his own remastered versions. He exemplifies the spoiled princess and egotistical money-hungry man for hire, as well as the insecure evil master puppet and puppet master so well that we don’t even miss those few central characters that didn’t make the cut.
Mel Brooks’ hilarious Star Wars parody gets a new life in this 25th anniversary Blu-ray. While it doesn’t bring a lot of extra flash to the film, there is a lot here to enjoy. This film was an epic nerd film begat of another epic nerd film and utilizes intelligent humor that makes you feel like you’re “in on” the joke. It was (I can’t decide if it is surprisingly or not surprisingly at all) a huge hit with the fans of the first film, as well as the already well established Mel Brooks. Mel Brooks was the original master of nerd humor. He proves his hand once again with a plethora of one-liners, sight gags and everything that makes a Mel Brooks film a Mel Brooks film. Spaceballs represents everything eighties like no other film can from the Winnebago to Pizza the Hut, the princess’ Mercedes and Bart’s Chuck Taylors, the cultural phenomenon that brought us hair bands, slap bracelets and Transformers (it’s not just a spaceship, it’s a Transformer) and wraps it up in a hilarious little package.
Who ever would have though we would be clamoring to see Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks and John Candy in hi-definition? Yet, it comes off well. There is too much side-splitting dialogue in the film to even begin to relay the moments in this review, and I have too many favorite moments to even begin to try sharing even these scenes. The comedic timing never misses a beat, Colonel Sanders (George Wyner) and Dark Helmet were spot on all the way from start to finish. The team of John Candy and Bill Pullman created a one of a kind duo. Brooks reveals in the special features that Moranis and Candy ad libbed and had a large hand in the creative process, creating moments that made the film what it was. Hearing Brooks talk about Candy makes me sad that an entire generation missed the opportunity to see any new creations by this comic king. He brings this sentiment home with his commentary regarding how the pain of going through playing Yogurt was worth it, because we won’t be here forever, but the laughs will. After films like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety this was the only genre Mel Brooks hadn’t conquered and Star Wars gave him what he needed to take down Science Fiction. How Brooks broke through the seriousness and overprotective nature that George Lucas had for his film I will never know, but some of his strategic moves are revealed in the special features, and if you didn’t already know this, the man is pure genius. If you are any kind of Mel Brooks or comedy fan, this Blu-ray is for you.
- Force Yourself! Space Balls and the Skroobing of Sci-Fi gives us Mel Brooks’ first hand account of how and why Star Wars, Star Trek and the like needed to be brought down, saying “I was looking for another genre to destroy, and there it was (Star Wars)”. His commentary, particularly on his interaction with George Lucas was fun to hear. If you’re curious as to how the film came about, your questions will be answered here.
- Audio Commentary with Mel Brooks is, of course invaluable and comical.
- Spaceballs: The Documentary brings forth some interesting trivia and we get to learn about everyone’s experience, allowing us the opportunity to be even more jealous of their chance to work with Mel Brooks than we started. Not loving how it was shot, but the content is more of my concern here.
- In Conversation: Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan is a fun back and forth shot in a much more casual nature. I love the interaction between the two men. It makes you wonder how much of the other commentary you’ve heard is true or made up in Brooks’ head or a big joke that only he is in on.
- John Candy: Comic Spirit made my heart hurt. I love everything this man was ever a part of and this tribute to him is just wonderful. We get to follow him from his start in the genius Second City improv group, which evolved into SCTV all the way to his breakout role in Splash to Spaceballs and beyond. I found myself tearing up with everyone that spoke of him at the end of the documentary.
- Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed reminds me of a moment I had when I accidentally borrowed a copy of E.T. that was in Spanish and we kept play the famous “E.T. phone home” line and laughing and laughing at “E.T. telephono mi casa”. Unfortunately it doesn’t elicit quite the same laughs due to how digitized it is, but it was a good thought.
- Still Galleries are just that, still galleries. There are some great behind the scenes shots.
Watching these was much fun, “Where are the balls?!”
- Film Flubs: These weren’t set up to run back to back and were too short for me to want to play each one at a time, not very exciting stuff.
- Storyboard-Film Comparison is again, just that.
The special features on this Blu-ray make it more than worth the investment. This is the kind of content that so many of these releases are missing. Everything you have ever wondered about Spaceballs, Mel Brooks, John Candy and the like is touched on somewhere in these extras.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the Blu-ray experience, the extras and the film once again.
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