MGM // 1987 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino // August 28th, 2012
"Helmet! So, at last we meet for the first time for the last time." -- Lone Starr
I watched Spaceballs on VHS more than all of the Star Wars films combined. It not only got a head start on defining science fiction for my young movie-watching mind, but it also stood as my Rosetta Stone for comedy. Now, after 25 years and numerous releases, Spaceballs is still as hilarious, and more relevant, than ever...which doesn't reflect all that well on Hollywood, which is still churning out Star Wars, Alien, and Planet of the Apes franchises. For Mel Brooks, Spaceballs was more than just a stab at science fiction parody; it's one of the most financially successful movies of his career, as well as a perfect bookend to a string of brilliant comedies.
The story of Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Barf (John Candy) traversing the universe to save Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) is as funny and smart as ever. Brooks, along with co-writers Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham, not only packed the film with as many gags and laughs as Airplane!, they also infused it with heart. That's the secret that most modern parody films miss: the audience still has to care about the stories and the characters...even if your movie prominently features a man covered in pizza.
Spaceballs gets just about everything right, from the Industrial Light and Magic-created special effects to the fourth-wall-breaking sight gags (that whole home video, "now is now" sequence is brilliant). Even if you don't get the references, or appreciate the fact that John Hurt reprises his role from Alien, the film still has enough jokes for everyone. It may not be his best movie, but I would argue that it's his last great one.
Brooks's movie did far better on home video than in theaters; naturally, in the past 12 years there have been at least four editions of this film on DVD, Blu-ray, and in various box sets. Like the Spaceballs memorabilia hocked by Yogurt, MGM knows how to milk this product for all its worth. That said, if for some reason you've held out until now, I can report that Spaceballs: The 25th Anniversary Edition is the one to get.
Most importantly, the sound and picture quality of this new edition is wonderful. For a film made in 1987, Spaceballs has a clean, clear picture that holds up beautifully in 1080p. There's very little film grain and the majority of the special effects and green screen work hold up better than most HD films from the 80s. The 5.1 Master Audio track is also very well balanced. The sound effects are loud and crisp, and the dialogue is clear and focused on the front channels. While I can't speak to how this compares to the original Blu-ray, I will say that the technical side of this disc is worth the upgrade alone.
The 25th Anniversary Edition includes all of the special features from the two-disc DVD collector's edition, as well a few new supplements. There's a new featurette called Force Yourself! Spaceballs and the Skroobing of Sci-Fi, which features an interview with Mel Brooks as he talks more about the creation of the film and its influence on science fiction. As far as I can tell, that's the only new featurette on the disc.
Mel Brooks fans should be used to Spaceballs showing up on home video every couple of years -- it's certainly getting more releases than The Twelve Chairs. But if you don't own this film in any of its iterations, or only own it in standard definition, this is the release to have. The A/V is excellent, and the special features from just about every release are all collected in one place. May the schwartz be with you.
Review content copyright © 2012 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
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