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Spaceballs (1987)

May the schwartz be with you.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG


‘Spaceballs’ may have garnered something of a lukewarm reception from the critics at the time of its 1987 big screen release, but you’d be hard-pushed to find any child of the 80s who doesn’t have a special place on their funny-bone for the Mel Brooks sci-fi send-up. After all, despite veering occasionally into the realms of more adult-orientated innuendo, it’s the young ‘uns who this movie is aimed at – and, chances are that if you loved ‘Spaceballs’ at the time, then you’ll love it just as much when you catch a glimpse of it on this new 2-disc Special Edition DVD. Even if you are all big and grown-up these days.

It’s largely set-up to lampoon the original Star Wars trilogy: you’ve got Bill Pullman as Lone Starr, an heroic amalgam of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo; John Candy as the Chewbacca-mocking man-dog Barf; Rick Moranis as the evil-but-inept Dark Helmet; Daphne Zuniga as requisite love interest Princess Vespa; Brooks himself as the all-seeing Yoghurt; the list goes on and on. Chuck in some gentle rib-poking in the direction of other sci-fi favourites like ‘Star Trek’, ‘Planet of the Apes’ and Alien, and you’re left with one of the most memorable space spoofs there’s ever been.

On the Brooks-o-meter, in my view it’s slightly better than Blazing Saddles but not quite as good as Young Frankenstein – but we all have our own favourites, and much depends on how big a fan you are of the genre being mocked. Certainly, given that it covers ground as well-watched as Star Wars and features such audience-friendly 1980s comedy fail-safes as Candy and Moranis, this one’s as accessible as Mel’s movies get.

Perhaps the thing that ‘Spaceballs’ has most in common with those first three George Lucas epics is that it’s there to be enjoyed rather than thought about. After all, there’s nothing remotely intelligent about the line of humour being followed here – if anything, Brooks is perhaps guilty of aiming too low too often – but there’s no denying that this film is funny. What’s more, it’s clearly been made with a lot of affection for the material it’s satirizing – and that’s the sort of touch which makes it impossible to dislike.

It's Got: John Hurt, Joan Rivers and funny-noises-guru Michael Winslow making up the numbers.

It Needs: Breathable air.

DVD Extras The merchandising adventure continues with this newly-released two-disc extravaganza. Disc 1 has a choice of audio commentary (choose to hear the observations of either Mel Brooks or the Ewok-inspired “Dinks” – with subtitles, of course). Disc 2 has a string of documentaries including featurettes on Brooks and John Candy, storyboard-to-film comparison, quotes, a trivia quiz, photo galleries, and three theatrical trailers. Edition reviewed: Spaceballs (Special Edition) [1987] (Amazon UK) also available Spaceballs (Collectors Edition) ( DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


May the schwartz be with you as you settle down to this relentlessly silly send-up aimed at the kiddies from the ‘Star Wars’ generation.