Film review: Galaxy Quest (1999), directed by Dean Parisot
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a TV show called Galaxy Quest (almost, but not quite, entirely similar to Star Trek). It got cancelled. The crew of the NSEA Protector are still touring sci-fi fan conventions, having to put up with smart-arse kids asking too many questions about the plausibility of technology presented, and so on.
And then one day, a hung-over former starship captain Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) gets taken to what he believes is a group of fans putting together an amateur film project. While the group of identically-clad people are indeed fans, they are in fact from a different planet altogether. The Thermians (including Enrico Colantoni as their leader, and Rainn Wilson) have picked up broadcasts of Galaxy Quest “historical documents” from Earth, and now they’ve come to get help from the legendary spaceship crew …
Nesmith manages to get the rest of the team (Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell and Daryl Mitchell) assembled, and they boldly go where no humans have gone before. Hilarity ensues.
Weaver’s character Gwen struggles with a role where she all she seems to do is reiterate what the computer says, Rickman’s Dr Dane with actually being a Serious Actor but having to dress up in silly prosthetics, and Rockwell’s with the existential angst of being a redshirt. Shalhoub is not far off being Adrian Monk in space, but is so comfortable with the alien surroundings that he even falls in love with one of the Thermian women (Missi Pyle).
The reason the actors have been picked up is to help the tiny remainder of the population of Thermia to defeat the evil, reptilian warlord Sarris (Robin Sachs). From studying the “historical documents”, the Thermians have managed to build a working replica of the Protector, and because its original crew were so successful with defeating people like evil, reptilian warlords, they figure the best thing is for the original crew to command the ship. They have no concept of TV shows, or even of acting, so needless to say, they’re blissfully unaware of the fact that they’ve just picked up a group of has-been actors rather than actual heroes.
Galaxy Quest is a fun take on sci-fi geekdom, and you can tell how much it doesn’t so much poke fun at the Star Trek franchise and its fandom, but rather is a celebration of it. I’m not Trek savvy at all, but I do enjoy sci-fi and especially sci-fi comedy and thought the film was a good laugh. Rickman is spot on as the chilly icy British Thespian who wants to be Taken Seriously as an Actor (Please Disregard the Plastic Head), and the other actors were a hoot too. After Rickman, I probably had most fun watching Rockwell. To me, he will just always be Zaphod Beeblebrox and not a redshirt.
If you like any of the actors, enjoy [sci-fi] comedy or Star Trek, this is a pretty funny movie. Not the funniest movie ever, by any means, but as piss-takes of TV/movie acting goes, it’s not bad. I just happen to think Tropic Thunder tickles my funny-bone more.
3 out of 5 plastic foreheads.