I was channel-surfing a couple of weeks ago when my TV happened to land on a very familiar sight – a washed-up actor was being asked by a group of the happiest looking aliens ever to help them in their fight against an evil military commander. Yep, I had stumbled across one of my favorite comedies of all time – Galaxy Quest. What is it that has me watching this movie any time I come across it? Today I take a closer look.
Galaxy Quest (PG-13)
Released: December 25, 1999
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman
Directed by: Dean Parisot
4 stars (out of 4)
From the DVD:
For four years, the courageous crew of the NSEA Protector – “Commander Peter Quincy Taggart” (Tim Allen), “Lt. Tawny Madison (Sigourney Weaver) and “Dr.Lazarus” (Alan Rickman) – set off on a thrilling and often dangerous mission in space…and then their series was cancelled! Now, twenty years later, aliens under attack have mistaken the Galaxy Quest television transmissions for “historical documents” and beam up the crew of has-been actors to save the universe. With no script, no director and no clue, the actors must turn in the performances of their lives in this hilarious adventure.
What I Loved
The Story: This movie is pure fun; a bunch of actors from a cancelled TV series reliving their glory days at conventions and mall openings find themselves mistaken for their characters by a gentle race of aliens called Thermians who have modeled their entire society around the show which they believe is real. When the Thermians ask them for their assistance in defeating the commander of a militant alien race, this motley crew rises to the challenge – with hilarious results. The story is literally three acts: (1) the opening act, where these actors go about their rather sad little lives of dwindling fame and bickering amongst themselves; (2) a middle section, where they are transported to the Thermian spaceship and have to fumble their way through real battles and alien landscapes; and (3) the grand finale, where they finally realize they can be just as heroic in real life as their characters were in the show and that they make a great team. Each act is a winner, solidly written and funny as h***.
The Cast: Casting for Galaxy Quest is inspired. Tim Allen is the egotistical Jason Nesmith (Captain Peter Quincy Taggart), an actor convinced he is still the hottest thing in the galaxy, Sigourney Weaver is Gwen DeMarco (Lt. Tawny Madison), the “blonde bombshell” of the show whose entire purpose was to talk with the ship’s computer, and Alan Rickman is the surprising (but hysterical) choice for Alexander Dane (Dr. Lazarus – this show’s Mr. Spock), a failed Shakespearean actor who has been reduced to massacring his character’s signature phrase “By Grabthar’s hammer, you shall be avenged” into “By Grabthar’s hammer…what a savings” at discount store openings.
Amazingly, the supporting cast is just as outstanding as the leads! Tony Shalhoub is Fred Kwan, the incredibly dim actor who portrayed Tech Sgt. Chen by squinting his eyes; Daryl Mitchell is Tommy Webber (Laredo), the child genius on the show who is now all grown up but can still scream like a baby; Sam Rockwell is Guy Fleegman, who once guest-starred on the show for one episode (only to die); and Justin Long – in his first big screen role – is Galaxy Quest’s biggest fan Brandon, who has all the answers this crazy crew needs to get around their own ship. Even with all this goodness, however, another actor manages to steal every scene he is in – Enrico Colantoni as Thermian leader Mathesar, the sweetest, most gullible, and earnest alien you will ever come across. His perpetually smiling face, honking laugh, and entranced awe of these has-been actors is a sight to behold.
Everyone has an opportunity to shine at multiple points – and they do it with gusto.
The Humor: The laughs are non-stop as these clueless actors fumble their way through helping the Thermians survive annihilation, sometimes with assistance from the unlikeliest of sources – including their own fans! One-liners fly, comedic timing is perfection, and the in-jokes for fans of the sci-fi genre are spot on, such as Guy Fleegman having a melt-down because he is convinced he will be the first to die since he is “unknown crew member such-and-such” and not one of the stars of the show. If you ever watched an episode of Star Trek and seen how every unnamed character in a red shirt was the one to die, you’ll enjoy the extra layers of the joke; if you haven’t, well, you can just have a laugh at his manic breakdown.
Normally, at this point I’d be revealing What I Liked and What I Didn’t Like about Galaxy Quest – but I absolutely adore this movie so there’s nothing to put here… it is What I Loved all the way, baby!
Galaxy Quest is a pitch-perfect sci-fi comedy/adventure that pays loving homage to the TV shows of yesteryear, as well as the fan bases and conventions that follow so many franchises – even after they’ve been cancelled. Actors reliving their glory days, fans obsessing about every minute detail of a show, and all the craziness that this entails is hysterically brought to life with a smart script and fantastic actors. What is so wonderful about this movie, though, is that you don’t have to be a part of that world to enjoy it; the humor is so accessible and warm-hearted that anyone can thoroughly enjoy this film – and become a fan themselves of the NSEA Protector and its crew. By Grabthar’s hammer, if you haven’t seen Galaxy Quest then it’s time you did!