I wouldn't rank Spaceballs up there with the likes of Blazing Saddles, but it's a vintage Mel Brooks spoof with a great cast and plenty of comedic elements. I don't think anyone else could get away with making so many really bad jokes, but Brooks always makes them work. Obviously, the film is a take-off of Star Wars, with its hero Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick Barf (John Candy) trying to rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the evil clutches of Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). The planet Druidia has all of the fresh air they could ever need locked inside a planetary shield, while Planet Spaceballs is quickly running out of breathable air. President Skroob (Mel Brooks) plans on kidnapping Princess Vespa and using her to blackmail the king of Druidia into revealing the combination to the planet's air stash. That's the plan, anyway. The satire doesn't stop with just Star Wars, though - there are countless in-jokes and spoofs taken from a wide range of other movies (e.g., Alien, The Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, etc.).
You know, you really can't describe a Mel Brooks film and do it any justice. You pretty much have to experience all of the one-liners, corny jokes, and physical humor for yourself. When it comes to Brooks' personal brand of humor, you'll either love it or hate it. For fans, there are some really ingenious bits playing off the craft of modern filmmaking and the marketing of film-related paraphernalia. There's even a high-brow joke or two that some viewers probably won't "get." Mostly, though, Spaceballs is chock full of good old-fashioned, corny jokes. It's the type of comedy that should hold up quite well for many years to come.
I think Rick Moranis pretty much steals the show as Dark Helmet, but Brooks' depiction of the all-wise Yogurt is pretty hard to forget, as well. I also enjoyed listening to Brooks' director's commentary, as he talks a good bit about the writing, production, and casting of the film. I even learned a few things I didn't know - such as the fact that Dom DeLuise supplied the voice for Pizza the Hutt. It's an amazing cast of characters - and a very funny movie.
on December 10, 2003
In Hollywood, parody is perhaps one of the more sincere forms of admiration, and every genre has inspired at least one satirical or at least zany parody, and for years Mel Brooks was the undisputed King of Kitsch.
Brooks' best films in this category are, of course, Blazing Saddles (a spoof of Westerns) and Young Frankenstein, his hilarious black-and-white take on Universal's 1930s "creature features." Both of these films launched frequent Brooks' player Gene Wilder into comic-leading man stardom for a while, and no other Brooks film since has been as successful or laugh-till-your-sides-ache funny, although a few of his later parody-driven films are still amusing and worth a look.
One of the few is 1987's Spaceballs, which takes on the sci-fi/space opera genre -- specifically, the Star Wars saga -- and takes every cliche and plot device ever used in those films. Starting with a Star Wars-like title crawl and taking comic license with the famous opening shot from Episode IV (a seemingly endless starship rumbles across the screen for what seems like an hour and sporting the cheeky bumper sticker "We Brake For Nobody") and climaxing with the obligatory final showdown between hero and villain, Spaceballs crams references from the Classic Star Wars Trilogy and tosses in bits of Star Trek, Alien and everything in between.
Bill Pullman (Lone Starr) fares well as the hero figure (who is a cross between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo), who flies across the stars on his Space Winnebago. His copilot and pal Barf (the late, great John Candy) is a "mog" -- half man, half dog -- who's his "own best friend." Together, this odd duo is caught up in the slight plot pitting the evil Spaceballs against the peaceful (if rather bland) inhabitants of Planet Druidia. The Spaceballs want to steal the Druids' air, and under the command of Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), they send a huge starship to carry out their dastardly plan.
But when they abduct Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) as she flees her own wedding, the Spaceballs get more than what they bargained for. Feisty and bratty, she proves to be more than a match for Dark Helmet, and when she is rescued by Lone Starr and Barf, all kinds of fireworks explode.
The cast is rounded out by Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, Joan Rivers (as the voice of Vespa's droid Dot Matrix) and, of course, Mel Brooks in a double role, the Spaceballs' incompetent President Skroob and the wise sage Yogurt.
As in all Mel Brooks' films of this vein, the gags are fast, furious and are a mixture of salacious humor, ridiculous one-liners, in-jokes and visual puns. Some are ho-hum, but there are enough funny bits in this movie to make it watchable. Still, this parody just doesn't reach the comic heights of Blazing Saddles.....
on November 10, 2003
A film that never gets old, I've been watching "Spaceballs" since I was a kid, and I just recently bought the DVD.
"Spaceballs" is a comedy by Mel Brooks which, while creating mini-parodies on several franchises throughout the movie, from "Star Trek" to "Planet of the Apes," it is essentially a spoof on "Star Wars," and it is a hilarious one at that.
The movie revolves around the exploits of Lone Starr and his companion Barf (half man, half dog) in their encounter with Princess Vespa of the Planet Druidia and her robot (droid) Dot Matrix. Druidia has become the target of the Spaceballs, an "empire" of sorts that wants the planet's air supply for themselves, ruled by the evil President Skroob. The adventure leads through many familiar settings of other movies, mainly from "Star Wars."
The comedy never fails and the movie creates several moments that will stick solidly in the viewer's memory, from the jump to ludicrous speed to the climactic Shwartz battle between Lone Starr and the ruthless Dark Helmet. It's a movie that markets watching over and over.
As for the DVD, while not as completely fleshed as some other discs, has plenty more extras than most. The opening menu is great, with eerie music playing, as if it were a serious film... and broken by a cow flying by or an astronaut yelling "Help me!" There is a theatrical trailer, a Making-Of documentary, and an audio commentary by Mel Brooks. Everything is informative and often hilarious. Despite the hardships of the film, you can tell everyone had fun making it.
This DVD is definitely worth your money. While it may run out of laugh-out louds after a while (or maybe it's just me though; I tend to see comedies run out of steam after multiple viewings) it will never cease to amuse you; and the extras will keep you entertained, making this DVD stand the test of time.
on October 9, 2003
Spaceballs follows Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), running away from a wedding she doesn't want to go through with because she doesn't love the groom. She is captured by the notorious spaceballs in a plot to steal all the air from her home planet. Luckily, she is rescued in the nick of time by Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his side-kick Barf (Jon Candy), a mog, half man, half dog and his own best friend. They are chased by the Spaceballs, led by Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), a pint sized Darth Vader wannabe. Add Mel Brooks styled comedy and satirical movie references and you have Spaceballs.
About the Movie
Spaceballs is easily one of the most entertaining Sci-fi spoofs ever made. Mel Brook's films have a way of never taking themselves too seriously. This film certainly doesn't, and it works wonders on the gut. There's a sort of comic genius in Spaceballs, and it's hard to know why it works so well.
Spaceballs makes fun of the entire Sci-fi genre, from Star Wars, the Alien movies, Planet of the Apes, to Star Trek and other classic sci-fi fare. What makes it so entertaining is that it combines elements of all of these, one-liners, exaggerations, sight joke, and twists on elements in the movies it is lampooning, to make a solid story line that holds together while at the same time being extremely funny.
While the comedic writing certainly contributes to what makes this film so good, the best aspect of this film is the cast. Somehow, every actor manages to have perfect comic timing (though film editing undoubtedly helps). The cast is led by several great comic actors, including the late John Candy, Rick Moranis, George Wyner and Mel Brooks himself.
Rick Moranis is probably the most notable of the bunch, the perfect casting choice for a glasses wearing caricature of Darth Vader. Watching him trot around the Spaceball ship in that oversized Vader helmet is hilarious, as he brings a sort of goofy pretentiousness to the role. He is easily the star of the film, though by no means the only one.
Dick Van Patton and Joan Rivers also play major roles if the film, as Princess Vespa's Father and the voice of Vespa's personal droid (modeled after C3PO of Star Wars), respectively. Joan Rivers is perfect in her role, her gravely New York accent is so incongruent from what we'd expect from a brass colored droid.
If you love Sci-fi or slapstick comedies, you'll probably enjoy this one. It's a delight to watch and pretty darn funny.
About the DVD
"Spaceballs: the DVD" comes in a hard case on a double sided DVD with both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. The case itself contains a two page leaflet that gives a few interesting production notes about the movie.
The picture and sound quality of this release are both pretty good. The animated menus are humorous and are among the best of the features of the DVD. The movie is translated into French and Spanish and has French and Spanish subtitles. Strangely enough, there are no English subtitles.
For special features, the DVD comes with a short vintage featurette about the making of the movie, and a commentary by Mel Brooks. The featurette is the "behind the scenes" type that was often released on TV shortly before a movie comes out. It contains a few actor interviews that give the sort of congratulatory remarks towards the director that are common in these sort of featurettes. Over all it's rather unexciting and doesn't provide much entertainment or information about the film.
The director's commentary appears to be the one that originally came with the Laserdisc release of this film in the late 80's and early 90's. If you actually happen to be one of the few people who had this movie on laserdisc, you'll find nothing new here.
As far as commentaries go, this one, done by Director Mel Brooks is mediocre at best. Directors who make commentaries should really watch the movie at least once BEFORE they make the commentary. It's clear that Brooks hadn't seen the movie in years, and it hurts the commentary's quality.
Brooks spends most of the time telling us who the actors are (repeatedly), complimenting them for their senses of humor and laughing at the in movie jokes. If that's what you like in a commentary, great, but I would have preferred a more meaty information about the production. There is some of this in the commentary, but not a lot.
Bottom Line: A 5 star movie on a 3 star DVD release. 4 Stars. Definitely worth picking up.
on February 14, 2003
Spaceballs was one of the truly towering movie experiences of my youth. Forced to read during one of those interminable home room "quiet reading" times of my sixth grade school year, I first encountered the novelization of this movie. It was pretty funny...but it was not the movie (which I later rented).
The comedy of Mel Brooks has always been sheer buckshot. There are no "smart bombs" in his arsenal. He throws everything he's got out there and if it hits, so be it.
Spaceballs hits consistently.
From Druish Princesses, Colonel Sanders, and Schwarz jokes (which inspired some pretty stupid crank calls-before caller I.D.) to Dark Helmet and Pizza the Hut-this movie is hilarious. Even Joan Rivers has some good lines.
This movie specializes in the kind of one-liner that you will find yourself quoting (often inappropriately) for years to come. I would place Spaceballs somewhere between Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride in my Pantheon of "quotable" movies. I have never been able to confront plain yogurt without my thoughts drifting to this movie.
For those of you wondering whether you should upgrade from a VHS copy to a DVD the answer is a definite yes. The commentary alone is worth the price of admission. The menu screen is priceless.
Before I go, I must make a nod to Rick Moranis. Spaceballs is probably his second best movie after Strange Brew. The role of Dark Helmut shows him at the height of his comedic powers. The final battle with (as he says it) "Loooone Star" still leaves me rolling with laughter.
God has a sense of humor. Otherwise we wouldn't have movies as great as Spaceballs. Get a copy today and share in the cosmic laughter.
on January 26, 2003
Mel Brooks has created some great satires, his best being Young Frankenstein. But Spaceballs, his spoof of space movies, is also a good film. There are jokes coming every 30 seconds, and while all of them don't hit, many do, and there are several really good ones. Rick Moranis steals the show as Dark Helmet, and Brooks puts in a solid performance as President Scroob, leader of the Spaceballs. The effects are pretty good, considering how ... the movie feels (believe it or not, it cost 25 million to make, or so Brooks says). Star Wars and Star Trek have so inundated American pop culture that Brooks satire of the genre has become a classic (and he spoofed Planet of the Apes, Wizard of Oz, and Lawrence of Arabia among other filmsas well). The dvd is put together to make a funny package. There is a short behind the scenes featurette and a commentary track by Brooks. The commentary track is pretty much worthless. You don't get many new insights, and in fact Brooks doesn't seem to realize just what a commentary is for. Still, the film is what you buy the dvd for, and it is a good movie.
on September 7, 2002
I used to really like this type of movie. Spoof movies were better over a decade ago. Does anyone out there think Leslie Nielsen is anywhere near as funny as he used to be? "Spaceballs" by Mel Brooks, years and years after it's original release, remains as good as ever.
When princess Vespa flees from her supposed wedding to the boring prince Valium she attracts the attention of the evil forces of Planet Spaceballs, led by the mysterious and hilarious Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis).
In order to save her from Helmet's clutches princess Vespa's father calls for a rescue party; the anything-but-a-hero Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half man-half dog partner Barf (John Candy).
Quickly they find themselves in the middle of an interstellar conflict and the fate of Vespa's home-planet Druidia lies in the balance.
With more memorable moments of comedy than most movies of it's kind and countless hilarious references to movies like "Alien", "Planet of the Apes" and ofcourse "Star Wars" this movie will leave you laughing for years.
on June 25, 2002
There are few comedies that can come close to touching the insanity of Mel Brooks. The man is a genius; there is not another way to describe it. He has done a parody film for just about every genre out there. In this film his target is Sci-Fi space operas. Star Wars, Star trek, Aliens and many other classics become the target of one massive farce on space adventures.
Spaceballs is without a doubt one of Brook's finest, and even has a few quotable scenes of its own. "Evil will always triumph because good is dumb."
The movie tells the story of a Druish princess who does not want to marry the royal pain Prince Valume. Rather than marry for her father's sake she runs away and is then attacked by Spaceballs who want to use her to blackmail her father into giving them the code to the air shield which guards 10,000 years of fresh air. The Spaceballs have nearly destroyed their planet and need to steal the air from Planet Druidia in order to save their own world.
Space cowboy Lonestar and his furry companion Barf are in debt to the notorious gangster Pizza the Hut. Thankfully the Druid King Rolland hires them to rescue his daughter from Spaceballs. The set up is cliché sci-fi, and in that way its perfect for what Brooks set out to do.
The problem with this movie is that the jokes do get tiresome. Unlike History of the World, Spaceballs has a limited view value. It is not a movie you could watch repeatedly and have it still be funny. If you take a "break" from it some of the laughs can be revived, but most of the gags do get old and stale after a while. It is still a worthy addition to anyone's DVD collection. Especially for the Mel Brooks commentary on the movie.
on April 6, 2002
Brooks is able, in a way that his parody film-maker rivals the Zucker Bros. aren't, to infuse what would otherwise be an odd collection of parody sketches with a halfway decent set of enjoyable characters that you can get behind as they galavant thier way through the story. Said story involves a plot by the evil Spaceballs to kidnap a princess and force her father to give them all of his planet's clean air. The only hope: hire a rogue named Lone Star to save the day. You get the definite sense that everyone enjoyed making this film a great deal, especially Rick Moranis who steals the movie as a diminutive Darth Vader clone aptly named Dark Helmet. As he switches between a whiny burocrat and a deep voiced dictator, he mines every opportunity for comedy, including one of the film's highlights: the evil Dark Lord playing with his toys in his room, complete with different voices for each action figure, a scene Moranis improvised. The film does, of course, have it's share of sexual inferences ("That was my Virgin Alarm. It's programmed to go off before you do!"), racial and political one-liners ("I can't make decisions: I'm a President!"), prop and visual comdey (Dom Deluise plays a charcater made entirely out of pizza), and some more traditional "set-up" jokes and puns ("What's the matter, Col. Sanders? CHICKEN?") but all work toward the same goal: tickling your funny bone raw (don't worry, it won't hurt... much). This is NOT Shakespeare, so don't look for it here, just pay your respects by laughing as much as possible.
DVD NOTES: Normally I don't like animated menus, but the designers of this disc got into the spirit of the movie and came up with a fun set of option screens to view. Commentary by Brooks is decent, as long as you can appreciate his need to thank ABSOLUELY EVERYONE who worked on this film. A good deal all around.
on February 23, 2002
I've read all reviews, and just want to add some exclusively for Rick Moranis, who plays Darth Helmet. I've seen him in other movies, mostly playing the good guy, but he'd never been so funny as in Spaceballs, playing the bad guy. He's the funniest bad guy I've ever seen, his voice changes are genius, his scene with the dolls (which improvised himself) is a classic. If you've never seen this movie, I recommend it to you if only to see the best bad guy characterization in comedy. A reference performance. I'm sure Jim Carrey took many from this Rick Moranis' character. I wonder what the hell happened with Rick, where are you now? Please, give us some more funny bad guy characters. I give the movie four stars because Rick was not in the commentary. Mel Brooks commentary is lame, he feels ashamed of this movie, and he shouldn't. It amazes me that kids that were too young to see Star Wars in theaters, and to see this movie shortly after, are buying Spaceballs and enjoying it so much. That means that the movie is a classic, because while not a big bucks success, it's been remembered after a long time. It even captures new generations, which doesn't happen with many movies.