Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review by Sombrero Grande

Spaceballs may have already "gone to plaid," but now it's making the jump to Blu. Spaceballs the movie (not to be confused with Spaceballs the animated series, Spaceballs the breakfast cereal, Spaceballs the flame thrower or Spaceballs the toilet paper) is now available on Blu-ray.

Sci-fi parodies (particularly ones that pinpoint Star Wars and Star Trek as their main targets) are a dime a dozen, but Spaceballs stands out as one of the best and as one of Mel Brooks' funniest films.

While many of the pun-based jokes and more vulgar gags in the film play pretty broad, there's greatness in the more subtle aspects of the parodying. For instance, after learning that George Lucas was inspired to create Chewbacca based on his dog, Brooks created his equivalent of Chewbacca in Barf, a literal half-man, half-dog ("I'm my own best friend").

The 4th-wall-breaking meta-humor in the film is fantastic, whether it's in watching the main characters' stunt doubles getting captured by mistake or seeing Brooks as Yogurt hawk all the fake merchandise for the film ("where the real money from the movie is made"), this is where Spaceballs truly shines. The scene in which Dark Helmet and Colonel Sanders watch Spaceballs on VHS while it's still being filmed ("you're looking at now now") is a stroke of comedy genius.

A true highlight of the film is any scene featuring Rick Moranis, who, along with playing Louis Tully in Ghostbusters, gives of the of the funniest performances of his career as the hilariously pathetic Dark Helmet. The rest of the cast is great as well, including John Candy (playing Barf the "mog"), Bill Pullman (the Han Solo-inspired Lone Starr), Daphne Zuniga (Druish Princess Vespa), Dick Van Patten (the king), George Wyner (as a Colonel Sanders who's totally unassociated with fried chicken) and Michael Winslow (who you may remember as "the sound effects guy" from Police Academy).

Spaceballs the Blu-ray release contains both a Blu-ray disc of the film as well as a DVD. If you already have one of the previous DVD releases of Spaceballs, there's not a lot of reason here to upgrade, unless you're really antsy to pad out your Blu-ray collection.

The DVD included is identical to the one originally released back in 2000, complete with the same utterly worthless commentary track from Brooks. Seriously, Brooks' commentary track on this disc is one of the worst DVD commentary tracks I've ever listened to. It's a prime example of how not to do an interesting commentary, with Brooks frequently merely describing what characters are doing on the screen, repeatedly calling out the names of everyone who worked on the picture and saying what a joy it was to work with them and offering up many long pauses in which he simply watches the film (some so long that you forget you're supposed to be listening to a commentary track altogether). The only interesting tidbit of information offered up in the course of the entire track is when Brooks states that Rick Moranis completely ad-libbed Dark Helmet's whole "playing with dolls" scene. There, now you have no reason to have to listen to the track at all.

The Blu-ray disc contains a high-definition transfer of the film, but all the bonus material comes directly from the 2005 "Collector's Edition" DVD release, leaving Spaceballs the Blu-ray release a hesitant recommendation for anyone who already owns a copy of the film on DVD from either time it was released.

In the film, Brooks playing Yogurt asserts that the cast will all meet up again in "Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money." While a sequel has yet to materialize, the "search for more money" is certainly in effect with this Blu-ray release that offers very little to the fan who already owns Spaceballs on DVD.


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