Mel Brooks’ surprisingly idiotic parody of space fantasy and sci-fi films finally debuts in ultra-high definition format and packed with extras in Space balls (Kino Lorber, Rated PG, 1.85: 1 aspect ratio, 96 minutes, $ 39.95).
My first viewing of the film in 1987 made me shake my head and ask, was this really created by the guy known for “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “The Producers?”
Accessible mostly to 10 year olds, the laughs were always a bit stale and distant to me, the dialogue was forced and too many crotch jokes as their primarily “Star Wars” ensemble unfolded.
However, the cast cannot be blamed.
Brooks assembled an eclectic group of legends and eventual legends led by Rick Moranis as Darth Helmet, Bill Pullman as the conceited Lone Star space pilot, Joan Rivers as the Dot Matrix droid, John Candy as Barf the dog, Daphne Zuniga as Princess. Vespa and Dick Van Patten as King Roland,
The story found the citizens of the planet Spaceball gasping for air and seeking to extort the precious asset of peaceful Druidia by taking their princess Vespa hostage. It’s up to Lone Star and Barf to save the day with the help of Yogurt and the mystical power of Schwartz.
Viewers will cringe at whimpers as Lone Star commenting, “just what we need a Druze princess (edge shot please), or seeing minions combing the desert using giant ACE combs or carrying Darth Helmet’s flagship, Spaceball One, at a “ridiculous speed”. It also featured one of the worst songs ever written called, of course, “We are the Spaceballs,” sung by the famous Spinners.
However, the humor had a hint of the creator’s most subversive and laughing moments.
Take Mr. Brooks as the wise merchant Yogurt, dressed as Yoda, or an appearance by John Hurt and his best alien friend and even a quick tribute to “Planet of the Apes.”
The movie needed a lot more of that kind of insane showcasing Mr. Brooks’ skills as the clever parodist.
4K in action: By far the most attractive version of “Spaceballs” to ever exist in the galaxy shows immediate payoff in the deliberately too long passage of the longest spacecraft in movie history, Spaceball One.
The incredible increase in clarity allows viewers to examine every piece of plastic pulled from the model kits and glued onto the ship, especially later when it is transformed into a Mega-maid with a vacuum cleaner.
Other moments to note are the details of Lone Star’s Eagle 5 flying Winnebago, a disgusting Pizza the Hutt with overly realistic sauce and cheese, and an outdoor desert scene on Vega’s moon.
The sandy action shows clarity and nuances of color subtle enough that Barf in her beige outfit stands out clearly in the sand while being contrasted against a crisp blue sky.
Suffice it to say, home theater connoisseurs will want this version of “Spaceballs” for their collection.
Best extras: The 4K disc only offers a classic but rather funny optional commentary track from Mr. Brooks, with occasional giggles from co-writer Ronnie Graham.
You have him first regretting not working with enough Jews; laugh at your actors in action; telegraphing the plot and reminding us that “bad jokes work for me”; and how proud he was of the collection of cheap jokes and how special effects cost around $ 100.
Frankly, the caption’s comment is usually funnier than the movie.
Below are all the extras from 2012, 25th Anniversary release on Blu-ray (mostly excerpted from the 2005 DVD release) found on the included Blu-ray version of the film.
Start with 17 minutes with Mr. Brooks focusing on Star Wars comparisons highlighted by his hilarious interview improvisation and follow the feature film with a classic 30-minute production segment featuring interviews from many of the cast and crew and much of the director covering. themes of history, casting, special effects, costumes, makeup and cinematography.
Also important is a historically significant 21-minute conversation between Mr. Brooks and “Spaceballs” co-writer Thomas Meehan. They discuss the writing process, as Mr. Brooks often critically explains. His decades of knowledge make the segment a must.
Finally, viewers can fondly remember comedian John Candy in a 10-minute segment that offers a brief glimpse into his too-short life and complemented by interviews with him, as well as with friends and fellow actors.