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More than merely parodying Star Wars film content, Spaceballs breaks down the series as a cultural phenomenon. Mel Brooks pokes at Star Wars’ juvenile, matinee approach to storytelling, aiming its jokes low, and its content absurd. That’s brilliant.

The obvious gags work, sure, but on a smarter level, Spaceballs hilariously jabs at obvious exposition. Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) looks right at the camera, asking audiences if they got his evil plan after it’s explicitly delivered. Purposefully stiff performances from Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga play up the obvious, inevitable relationship soon to come – and ironically, in a more logical way than Star Wars as Pullman’s frat boy Lone Starr clashes with the spoiled princess he’s trying to rescue.

Spaceballs is a one joke movie… Luckily, it’s a damn good joke

Brooks’ humor hits from countless angles, skewering the dopey president (“I can’t make decisions! I’m president!”), incompetent heroes, fourth-wall shattering gags, penis references, and oddly, convincing special effects. The latter only makes it funnier, grounded in a visually plausible, stupid fantasy.

There’s undoubtedly a sense that Brooks saw the changing film landscape in the post-Star Wars world. Spaceballs’ famed merchandising scene lays into how sheepishly movie franchises aimed their monetization schemes. Spaceballs even uses product placement, albeit for products that never actually existed. Translating to reality, Brooks’ stuck to his critique – no action figures, no shirts or lunchboxes emblazoned with the logo. That’s an expensive joke.

It’s not a crass statement to put Star Wars on blast (or George Lucas). He was first. The joke isn’t at Lucas’ expense, rather the studios who (now more than then) laid out plans for every feature beforehand. If a script doesn’t scream additional revenue streams, it’s less likely to see production. In that sense, Spaceballs is a one joke movie, saying that a derivative, clumsily acted movie with loosely connected story points will, in fact, turn millions of dollars in profit. Luckily, it’s a damn good joke.

With its overwhelming charms, there’s still space for race gags with black stormtroopers “combing” the desert with a hair pick and worries about the “Druish” being too greedy. Although larger than Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein in terms of scale/effects/complexity, Brooks’ signatures remain. This is his humor, his commentary, his style, his Schwartz.

Video

From a 4K scan, Kino delivers a precise, effectively perfect presentation for Spaceballs. Small, normal grain spikes are well controlled by an encode given plenty of space. Any print damage is reserved for composite shots, and even that’s mostly repaired.

Sharpness brings out detail in the models galore. The opening pass shows textural touches in droves. Facial texture appears consistently, and is perfectly resolved. Not only does the fur on Barf’s makeup appear, but each strand of golden hair on Dot Matrix’s head too.

Add in a Dolby Vision pass to boost color saturation and Spaceballs adds to its gains on 4K. It’s not an overly colorful movie, but what’s here appears denser than previous Blu-rays. It’s definitely gone to plaid. Flesh tones look more accurate, and primaries pop where possible. Tractor beams and hyper active engines glow when activated. Added depth in black levels keep shadow detail lively even when peering at Dark Helmet’s suit.

Audio

Between stereo and 5.1, the surround mix does great work in pushing ships and lasers between the speakers as they pass. The score sounds superlative too, filling the soundstage, and with more oomph than the stereo can present.

Fidelity scores, enough to make it seem like Spaceballs didn’t age a month, let alone 30+ years. Bass isn’t hefty, but consistently notable.

Extras

On the UHD, Mel Brooks’ commentary. Pop in the Blu-ray for everything else (and the commentary too). That begins with a Mel Brooks-led retrospective running 16-minutes titled Spoof Yourself. Then comes the older Spaceballs: The Documentary at 30-minutes. A chat with Brooks and co-writer Thomas Meehan lasts 20-minutes. A 10-minute remembrance of John Candy is wonderful. Ninety seconds of flubs in the finished movie come next. A storyboard comparison, image galleries, a trailer introduction with Brooks, and more trailers follow.

Spaceballs
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Not only poking fun at Star Wars, Spaceballs takes aim at the film industry as a whole in a clever spoof with every Mel Brooks signature.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 67 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: