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The Movie:

A beautiful example of a film throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks, "Spaceballs" still remains amusing after all these years, as it joyfully parodies "Star Wars" and yet, kind of creates its own adventure and little world. Bill Pullman of "Independence Day" plays Lone Starr, a jockey pilot who is, of course, meant to be similar to Star Wars's Han Solo. John Candy is very funny as Barf, a "mog"(half man/half dog - as he says, "I'm my own best friend.") and Rick Moranis has his best role as Dark Helmet, the villian who has nothing go right for him (sort of an early Dr. Evil from "Austin Powers".)

The story revolves around the evil Dark Helmet trying to steal the air from the little planet of Druidia. Meanwhile, Princess Vespa (she's a Druish princess, get it?) (Daphne Zuniga) has been kidnapped by Dark Helmet, and it's up to Lone Starr to save her. Although it's more than a little silly and a bit sloppy, the bits come at a rate of one every couple minutes. Intensely quotable and full of a wealth of memorable sequences, "Spaceballs" doesn't always work, but it keeps trying to get you to laugh and the cast seems to be having a great deal of fun.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Spaceballs" is presented by MGM in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that improves upon the non-anamorphic presentation offered on the prior release. Sharpness and detail seem better and more consistent here, as the picture looks bright, crisp and well-defined throughout, with nice fine detail at times. A couple of wider shots look softer by comparison, but overall, the presentation looks great.

There aren't many flaws at all to be found - the print used is in very good condition, with only one or two marks. Shimmering and pixelation also don't make an appearance. A little bit of edge enhancement is spotted, but it doesn't distract. Colors are generally brighter and a bit more vivid than the prior DVD release's presentation.

SOUND: Although the picture quality was just adequate, the sound quality is suprisingly good. Surrounds are used often and fairly agressively on occasion. There's also some solid bass, at times. It's nothing that's going to make the neighbors angry, but it's really an entertaining soundtrack with a great sounding score. The sound designer for this film was Gary Rydstrom, the famous sound designer for films such as "Saving Private Ryan", "A Bug's Life", the "Star Wars" prequels and "Jurassic Park". This DVD edition offers both a Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 presentation, although both sound essentially the same.

EXTRAS: The first disc includes the same audio commentary from Mel Brooks as the prior disc, which is unfortunate, as it's a track full of gaps and fairly low-key chatter from the director. Given that the commentary is generally not well-regarded, it's too bad that a new one with members of the cast and crew wasn't recorded for this release. There's also the option on the first disc to watch the movie at ludicrous speed (about 25 seconds). Although I don't usually mention menus, the menus for this release are an incredibly funny parody of the menus for the "Star Wars" DVDs.

"Spaceballs: The Documentary" is a fun half-hour documentary that has members of the cast and crew recalling some of the great moments on-set. We also learn about the work that had to be done on the film, including Brooks talking with Lucas about doing the film, and having ILM end up doing the visual effects. "In Conversation" has writers Brooks and Thomas Meehan discussing the writing process. In terms of featurettes, we end up with "John Candy: Comic Spirit", a very nice tribute to the actor. We also get image galleries, trailers, toryboard-to-film comparisons, trivia game, quotes and more.

Final Thoughts: "Spaceballs" is still wonderfully watchable years later, as the many of the bits still have me rolling. This new Special Edition, which includes improved video quality and a lot of new supplements, makes for a perfect movie to view before the next "Star Wars" movie hits theaters. Although there are a couple of issues here (the return of the mediocre Brooks commentary), fans should enjoy this new edition. Recommended.





Film Grade
The Film *** 1/2
DVD Grades
Video 89/B+
Audio: 87/B
Extras: 84/B


DVD Information




Spaceballs (Collector's Edition)
MGM Home Video
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English/Spanish/French
2.35:1
Dual Layer:Yes
Rated:PG
91 minutes
Anamorphic:Yes
Region:1
Available At Amazon.com: Spaceballs (Collector's Edition) DVD