Spaceballs DVD Review

Once you have parodied the west and the world itself, what's left? Duh. What else but space itself? Though less edgy and a little tamer than his previous efforts, "Spaceballs" provides quite a few hilarious moments. Still, some of the jokes go absolutely nowhere.

Once upon a time warp, the peaceful planet of Druidia is invaded by the evil Spaceballs. Led by the sinister Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), this rouge group looks to steal air, something their own world is desperately lacking. After kidnapping princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) on her wedding day, it comes down to Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his furry sidekick (John Candy) to save the day.

"Spaceballs" is an obvious parody of George Lucas' own "Star Wars" saga, but that wasn't enough for Brooks. Taking stabs at "Indians Jones," TV favorite "Star Trek," action classic "Rambo," and two more classic sci-fi films, "Aliens" along with "Planet of the Apes," this is a movie that requires multiple viewings in order to catch it all. It doesn't require that viewers see these movies first, but it would certainly help.

Rick Moranis steals the show here like he did in "Ghostbusters" a few years earlier. Dark Helmet is just priceless, the mask providing a slew of sight gags. Of course, Mel Brooks himself gets in on the action in two roles, President Skroob and Yogurt, the latter being a role he played entirely while on his knees. Joan Rivers also snags a spot on the roster as a C-3PO parody.

But, this film tries (and fails) to entertain both adults and kids. The occasionally rough language (particularly strong for a movie only rated PG) and sexual innuendo puts it into the adult realm while lines like "What's the matter Colonel Sanders? Chicken?" are so bad, they take you right out of the movie. Still, if this is your genre, you'll have a hard time trying to find a better parody. (*** out of *****)

Both 1.85:1 widescreen and pan & scan versions are included on this disc, each on opposite sides. This is a non-anamorphic transfer, so widescreen TV owners get shut out. Some occasionally heavy grain really knocks down this discs picture. The print also seems heavily damaged with major scratches and annoying specks. There are numerous scenes where the transfer if just gorgeous (particularly the ending scenes), but the overall effort here is a disappointment. (***)

Now mixed into 5.1, "Spaceballs" likely sounds better than it ever has, but the experience is almost entirely front-loaded. The soundtrack does a fine job of filling all five speakers and there is some decent bass, but that is pretty much the extent of this track. Even the action scenes (including the laser battle) never really get a chance to shine. Still, the important parts, including the dialogue, come through with no noticeable problems. (***)

The best part of this disc is the menus. It is obvious that whoever worked on this disc knew what they were dealing with as you're led through them with the assistance of "Mr. DVD." Just be sure to visit every section. Elsewhere, Mel Brooks provides an informative commentary but still lets the funniest scenes play out by themselves. A brief featurette runs about nine-minutes but it entirely promotional. That's it for the extras even though the movie does deserve a little more. (***)

With the sequel supposedly in the works, it's likely this one will see a re-release sometime down the road. Movie companies are hardly stupid. Until that time comes, this isn't a bad disc for fans of the film, though those with a widescreen TV will likely be better off waiting.


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