Galaxy Quest (1999)

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Ben
When I was a kid, Star Trek was something I considered to be really dorky. I was definitely a Star Wars fan and couldn’t really see the interest in the other ‘Star’ series that are always compared with each other. That’s why I love a film like Galaxy Quest, it spoofs the trekkie culture so well, but doesn’t feel like it’s mocking the fans either.

Galaxy Quest follow Peter Quincy Taggart (Tim Allen). Years ago, Taggart was the star of a sci-fi television show called Galaxy Quest. Nowadays, he turns up at conventions with the rest of his cast (Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub and Daryl Mitchel) to meet devoted fans and attempt to remain relevant. During what he thinks is a fan encounter, Peter ends up on a real life space ship built by aliens who have seen the old show and mistaken it for ‘historical documents’. They have incorporated everything they saw in the show into their lives, building an exact copy of the ship they had seen. The alien’s leader (Enrico Colantoni) has requested the help of Taggart to help them get rid of an evil alien that has destroyed their world. Taggart assumes this is just some nerds living out their fantasies, until he realises he is actually on a ship in outer space. He decides to grab his crew and head to outer space to help his new alien friends out. The only question is, can this crew of actors who have only ever pretended to be heroes, turn up and be the real thing to help defeat the villain?

I really enjoy this film, I may not be the biggest Star Trek fan, but I can certainly appreciate fandom and how obsessed people can get about pop culture. This movie shows these fans really well, and does a great job of not belittling them either. It would be so easy for this film to just write these fans off as nerds to be ignored, but the fans are an important part of any pop culture phenomena, and this film portrays them in a really good light for the most part.

The cast is terrific, Allen is great as the Captain Kirk/William Shatner clone, Peter Taggart. He is having a lot of fun playing the role of a womanising has been. The rest of the cast is really good too. Sigourney Weaver, well known to any sci-fi fan from her role in the Alien series, is very funny as Gwen DeMarco. Her job on the ship was to repeat everything the computer says, a job she continues to do when the crew are actually on a space ship. She is very funny, and it is such a huge contrast from the work she has done as Ellen Ripley. Alan Rickman is probably my favourite character in this film. He played the Spock knock off in Galaxy Quest and resents Peter Taggart for being an over-actor and taking all of his good lines. The cast work really well together, you get the idea this is likely how a cast of actors from an old TV show would interact with each other, especially if there was friction between them. I also really liked Sam Rockwell’s character. He was an extra on the original show, and now has a gig introducing the cast at conventions. He ends up in space with the cast and is convinced he will die at the first opportunity because he is a nobody. His role was very funny, and one of Rockwell’s earlier performances. It was definitely the first thing I remember seeing him in.

Galaxy Quest is a fun film that pokes fun at the sci-fi genre, but does a great job of not belittling its fan base too much. The cast work really well together and have terrific chemistry, led by Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman.

Rating: B+


Sally
Galaxy Quest is a movie I initially wrote off as stupid, but it’s actually very clever and fun to watch. This film takes a common problem for many actors– never being able to escape a signature role– and takes it to a ridiculous, yet hilarious level. The movie is a tribute to Star Trek and its devoted fans, one that pokes fun but has a genuine love for the series that inspired it.

This movie revolves around a group of actors who once starred in a science fiction TV series that has attained cult status. Eighteen years after the show’s cancellation the cast can only get work making appearances at store openings or appearing at Galaxy Quest conventions. They all have varying opinions of the show that made them famous, ranging from good natured acceptance to outright contempt at being typecast. I imagine these are the same feelings that many actors who have experienced a singular success have. It must be great to become so well loved for a role, but when it becomes the only thing you’re recognized for it could easily drive someone crazy.

This movie is as much a spoof of the sci-fi genre as it is of the fandoms that become intensely devoted to them. We are shown the typical nerdy fans at the convention, the ones who ask extremely detailed questions that the actors couldn’t possibly answer. While the show’s cast initially brushes them off, it’s these same fans who end up saving their lives. I’m sure many actors– Star Trek alumni in particular– have a similarly complicated relationship with their fans. These are the people who made their careers, but they are also the people who won’t let go of that one role (sometimes to the point where they think the show is real).

Galaxy Quest is a lot of fun, and it’s clear the actors are enjoying themselves. Though Tim Allen is the star of both the movie and the fictional Galaxy Quest television show, this is really an ensemble cast. Allen shares the spotlight to his co-stars– which include Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, and Tony Shalhoub– allowing each character to become fully developed. From the beginning of the movie you believe that these people have known each other for years, and are also sick and tired of always meeting under the same circumstances.

The fact that former Star Trek actors love this movie really shows what a great job they did spoofing the source material. Galaxy Quest may be silly (as much of the Trek television franchise is), but it absolutely feels real. This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to a behind-the-scenes look at how the cast interacts when they come together.

Rating: B+

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