Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    John Candy as BARF
    Rick Moranis as DARK HELMET
    Bill Pullman as LONE STAR
    Daphne Zuniga as PRINCESS VESPA
    Dick Van Patten as KING ROLAND
    George Wyner as COLONEL SANDURZ
    Joan Rivers as DOT MATRIX

    Rated PG
    Studio: MGM

    Directed by: Mel Brooks

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In the 70s and 80s, Mel Brooks spoofed westerns, Universal horror movies, silent films and even the history of the world. After “Star Wars” became a sensation, he set his sights on spoofing science fiction epics. The result was “Spaceballs,” a story of a kidnapped princess who is rescued by a swashbuckling smuggler with a furry first mate. It takes jabs at all the big space stories, including “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and even a brilliant ode to “Alien”... all at ludicrous speed.

This is possibly the last great film that Mel Brooks directed, unless you want to count “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (and I wouldn’t necessarily count that one). Yeah, it’s riddled with his old-school humor, and the charm of Mel Brooks has faded in light of raunchier moguls like Judd Apatow and Adam McKay. However, for the fan of his good, clean-yet-dirty humor, “Spaceballs” was one of his last great films.

I was a child of the 70s and 80s, and I am a self-admitted “Star Wars” baby. So, this film was made for someone like me in mind. For to spoof a genre, one must love a drama. I enjoyed “Blazing Saddles” for its overt comedy, but a lot of the genre jokes were lost on me. Not so with “Spaceballs,” and even today, I enjoy watching it and reliving my love for science fiction of the past. In this respect, it is still one of the most quotable movies to come out of that decade.

But one can’t talk about his or her love for “Spaceballs” without giving a nod to John Candy, who passed away less than ten years after making this film. “Spaceballs” was made not too long after his career started to take off, and it is great to watch this comedy master in his heyday.

As much as I do enjoy reliving the “Spaceballs” experience, I will be the first to agree that the film is a bit dated. The jokes have their roots in Mel Brooks’ earlier career when dirty jokes really were not that dirty, and many of them went out of style by the late 1980s. The film holds a solid PG rating (being one of the few PG movies that dropped an f-bomb back in the day). On a personal level, I would have liked to have seen a bit more R-rated comedy, even today. (But if that were to happen, I wouldn’t be able to show this to my kids, and they loved the movie as is.)

The newly released Blu-ray of “Spaceballs” is virtually the same as the 20th anniversary DVD release. In fact, the Blu-ray is actually bundled with that DVD, which makes it a nice buy for anyone wanting to seed their Blu-ray collection before they get the hardware.

Special features include the ability to watch the movie at ludicrous speed (which takes only a couple minutes), plus a commentary track by Mel Brooks. There are two additional commentary tracks, one in Mawgese and the other in Dinkese.

Featurettes include “Spaceballs: The Documentary,” “In Conversation: Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan” and “John Candy: Comic Spirit.”

Additional features include storyboard-to-film comparisons, three image galleries, the original theatrical trailer and a set of film flubs with the movie gaffs pointed out in the middle of the scenes.

Old-school Mel Brooks fans and “Star Wars” babies like me.

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