MGM // 2008 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // January 21st, 2010
"May the Schwartz be with you!"
The past couple of decades haven't exactly been kind to Mel Brooks fans. Outside of the considerable success of his Broadway adaptation of The Producers, most of Brooks' entertainment ventures have been pale imitations of his earlier, funnier works. However, I'm not sure that Brooks has ever been involved with anything quite so bad as Spaceballs: The Animated Series (re-packaged in this set as Spaceballs: The Totally Warped Animated Adventures).
Spaceballs, of course, is the popular yet somewhat underwhelming Brooks-directed sci-fi comedy released in 1987. The film was essentially a parody of a variety of sci-fi films, though the biggest and most obvious inspiration was Stars Wars, with goofy versions of Han Solo (Lonestar), Chewbacca (Mog), Princess Leia (Princess Vespa), Darth Vader (Dark Helmet), and Yoda (Yogurt). When setting about adapting the movie as an animated series, I imagine the series bible read something like this:
A. Repeat jokes from Spaceballs.
B. Repeat jokes from other Mel Brooks movies.
C. Employ more cheap gross-out gags than any other animated show in the history of animated shows.
The result is a program that embraces all of the worst elements of both Brooks' films and Seth McFarlane's television shows without retaining any of the charms of either. Wow, this is bad. It's no wonder that the series never even finished its 13-episode run; even those who typically embrace lowest-common-denominator television would probably have found it below their intelligence level. It would be one thing if this were just a failed Adult Swim experiment by some untalented hack, but one expects more from the likes of Mel Brooks...yes, even modern-era Mel Brooks.
Apparently someone out there deemed most of the episodes unworthy of preservation (unless there are future DVD releases planned), as this set only collects four of the 22-minute installments:
* Deep Ship
* The Scroobinator
* Grand Theft Starship
Do you love those Seth McFarlane episodes that feature endless scenes of characters spewing projectile vomit? Then you'll love "Outbreak," which offers a non-stop series of vomit scenes for the entire episode. Every now and then, the vomiting scenes are punctuated by scenes of extended farting. I know that Mel Brooks is the guy who gave us the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles and the pigeon-poop scene from High Anxiety, but this is just ridiculous. Spaceballs wasn't a great movie, but it certainly wasn't dominated by gross-out gags.
Elsewhere, the writing is lazy and uninspired. In addition to the aforementioned recycled gags ("It's good to be the king!" "I got it...I got it...I don't got it!"), we have jokes that fail miserably in their attempts to be edgy and modern. The episode about video gaming plays like it was written by a man who hasn't played a video game since 1991, and its satirization of the gaming world is obvious and lazy. Or hey, how about those penis jokes? I swear, there's some sort of penis gag every three minutes in this show. Hey look, it's another spaceship that looks like a penis! Hilarious!
What's really sad is that some of the original actors from the movie have been dragged into this mess. Brooks himself voices both President Scroob and Yogurt, both of whom get to play a larger role in the proceedings than they did in the movie. In addition, Daphne Zuniga returns to play Princess Vespa, while Joan Rivers continues to voice Vespa's robotic sidekick. They're all fine, but who can survive material like this? Rounding out the voice cast are Tino Insana (Darkwing Duck) as Barf, Rino Romano (The Batman) as Lone Starr, and Dee Bradley Baker (Spongebob Squarepants) as Dark Helmet. Apparently the late Dom DeLuise voiced Pizza the Hut in some of the episodes, but the character never appears in any of the installments on this disc.
The transfer is fine, though the ultra-simplistic flash animation doesn't exactly require anything spectacular. More problematic is the audio, which suffers from dialogue distortion on a pretty regular basis (Dark Helmet's dialogue in particular is overheated). The only extras on the disc are a handful of brief animated vignettes that serve as goofy interludes between episodes.
Do not purchase, rent or watch this disc under any circumstances. I swear you will regret it.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated