Spaceballs was originally released in 1987 and received mediocre business but decent video and rental sales. With thousands of silly quotes and its skewering of the George Lucas merchandising juggernaut known as Star Wars, it has remained a cult favorite especially among Science Fiction fans. It only makes sense that it would be re-released on DVD in a special edition just in time to
cash in commemorate the release of the presumably last Star Wars movie.
Spaceballs tells the story of runaway Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) and her droid companion Dot Matrix (voiced by Joan Rivers), who are fleeing a fixed marriage only to be menaced by the evil and squat Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) in his mega-spaceship Spaceball 1. He wishes to hold her hostage so that he and his fellow Spaceballs can extort all of the fresh air from her native planet of Druidia. Her father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) enlists the aid of rogue pilot Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his companion Barf (John Candy). They are willing to rescue the princess in exchange for a million Spacebucks because they owe the evil Pizza the Hut and want to avoid a price on their heads. Everybody got that?
There’s more, of course: it a send-up of everything from the aforementioned Star Wars to The Wizard of Oz plus many other fun movie references. The humor is sophomoric, the sets are cheap, the acting is overdone, and everything is just plain silly. I must admit I am one of those people who love this movie, and I have seen it dozens of times. It’s tough to assign a rating to it simply because some people adore this satire and others dismiss it as Mel Brooks at his worst.
The movie is at its sharpest when it is skewering the merchandising of the Star Wars saga, and now that I have watched it just before the release of Revenge of the Sith I found those scenes had extra bite to them, as I sat and munched on my dark chocolate M&M’s with Darth Vader on the package. Some of the movie has aged, but it’s still fun to watch Rick Moranis play with little plastic dolls. Plus there’s Ludicrous Speed, Yogurt the Wise, ginormous transforming sucking maids, and dancing aliens, all to enjoy.
As far as the new release of the DVD goes, it’s a shame that they didn’t have the budget to go into the film and add some completely un-needed CGI generated scenes. Now that would have been funny. Instead they repackaged the old stuff and added some stupid new stuff. I had a chance to compare some scenes from the old DVD to this one, and it looks like they did clean up the colors. The new DVD looks sharper and brighter. As far as the sound is concerned, a 5.1. DTS soundtrack was added to this edition and it sounds pretty good. Since this movie is not a classic (except in the minds of a few), a new transfer might not be the impetus you need to double-dip.
Now to the extras: Mel Brooks’ commentary is sadly not that interesting and is leftover from the original DVD release. What a shame; I’m a fan of Mr. Brooks’ comedy and I would have thought he would have shined on a commentary track. The second disc is stuffed with some really stupid stuff like quote and trivia games, obligatory featurettes, trailers, and still galleries. The tribute to the late John Candy was nice, I’ll admit and I enjoy any movie that will proudly and deliberately point out its own flubs. It’s just that overall I was not that impressed and felt, well, ripped off. Of course that is all part of Mel Brooks evil master plan in his search for more money so you have been warned!
Hey: you either like this movie or you don’t. If you like it and you don’t have it on DVD yet, this edition is the one you want. If you already own the disc it really isn’t worth the double dip unless you really, really, really adore this movie. So break out your Yoda Pepsi, munch your Amidala Doritos, all while snuggled up in your Anakin Underoos, and enjoy this shameless bit of money-grubbing fun. May the Schwartz be with you!