Directed by Mel Brooks.
Starring Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, and Joan Rivers.
Another edition of Spaceballs? This one is in 4K, so if you want your Mel Brooks satire in the highest possible resolution that’s available these days, Kino Lorber has served your needs. The film looks and sounds great, and most of the bonus features from previous editions have been ported over.
Mel Brooks was reaching the end of his run as a director of sharp satires when he released Spaceballs in 1987. It had been six years since his classic History of the World Part I, and this time he turned his brand of farcical humor on George Lucas’s immensely popular Star Wars franchise. However, Lucas was in the midst of a long break between Star Wars trilogies and the public wasn’t as interested in the subject as they might have been a few years earlier, which likely led to Spaceballs’ lackluster box office showing.
Thanks to the then-burgeoning home video market, though, Spaceballs was able to find new life, and it has appeared in various VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, and Blu-ray editions over the years. In fact, Brooks notes somewhere in the bonus features that it has surpassed any of his other films on home video, so just remember that the next time a film you love flops at the box office.
I don’t know if I need to recount the plot of this one. Star Wars has been parodied plenty of times over the last 40-plus years, starting with the minor classic Hardware Wars (I loved that and Bambi vs. Godzilla on HBO way back when), and Brooks’ big-budget take on it is just as funny as when it came out in 1987. Every aspect of Star Wars is ripe for being parodied here, including its enormous amount of merchandise, and George Lucas is said to have loved and supported the effort.
Kino Lorber commissioned a new 4K scan and clean-up of the film for this release, and it looks better than it ever has on home video. While Brooks’ other films may not benefit as much from a 4K release, Spaceballs shines here, thanks to the format’s ability to bring out all the little details in the models and the sets. It may not be one of the first films that comes to mind when discussing great special effects, but Apogee, helmed by ex-ILM lead John Dykstra, did the bulk of the work, and ILM contributed the Alien reference at the end, along with a little bit of unused Star Wars footage.
Nothing new was commissioned for this edition, so the bonus features are a smattering of content created for various previous releases. I’m not sure what was left behind, so you’ll have to do your own comparisons with what you currently own if you want to ditch any past editions. This package also includes a Blu-ray disc – the only bonus feature found on both platters is the commentary, which was a good idea so the 4K version had plenty of space for maximum image and sound quality.
- Commentary with Brooks and Ronny Graham: Graham was a co-writer on the film and plays a small role in it. Brooks drives most of the discussion here, but Graham pops in occasionally with his own thoughts. This is a scene-specific track with Brooks commenting on the movie as it plays out, complete with plenty of jokes, of course.
- Spaceballs: The Documentary (30 minutes): Much of the cast looks back on the making of the film, except, of course, John Candy, who played the Chewbacca-like Barf.
- John Candy: Comic Spirit (10 minutes): The brilliant comedian, who died in 1994, is the subject of this retrospective.
- Force Yourself! – Spaceballs and the Skroobing of Sci-Fi (17 minutes): Brooks looks back on the film. He’s mostly by himself here, although writer and actor Rudy De Luca, who plays Vinnie, joins him at one point.
- In Conversation with Mel Brooks and Co-Writer Thomas Meehan (20.5 minutes): Aspiring screenwriters will likely enjoy this chat between Brooks and his other co-writer. The pair discuss the development of the script.
- Watch Spaceballs in Ludicrous Speed (30 seconds): Yes, watch the whole film in just 30 seconds. Think of the time savings!
- Film Flubs (1.5 minutes): This is a quick look at some of the mistakes that made it into the film.
- Storyboards to Film Comparison (7 minutes): A side-by-side look at some of the storyboards and how those moments showed up in the finished film.
- Behind-the-Scenes Image Gallery (6 minutes): This displays 36 photos from the making of the film, including some of the special effects work.
- Posters and Art Image Gallery: This includes 16 shots of various posters, paintings of characters, and different concepts.
- Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks Introduction (2 minutes): Way back when, studios used to create trailers just for theater owners, to sell them on booking a film, and Brooks shot an introduction that is included here.
A teaser trailer and a full trailer for Spaceballs, along with trailers for four other films connected to Brooks and Candy, round out the disc.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★