Movie Review: Galaxy Quest (1999)

galaxy quest

Rating: B+/ The sci-fi Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest is a delightfully good bit of fun, and rings true in terms of showbiz satire. It’s hard for a normal everyday person to imagine fame becoming a terrible burden, but we see many celebrities making a downward spiral into drugs, alcohol and general excess and we wonder; with all the money and prestige in the world, how could they let themselves go like that? I think one of the main reasons is the negative influence of fans and paparazzi who insert themselves into every aspect of an actor’s life. I mean, they pretend for a living! You don’t know them personally because you ‘loved them in that show’ and you have no right to fill their websites with sycophantic emails and stalk them at comic con. People don’t realize that actors are human beings with a right to their own lives and their own privacy.

    So, Galaxy Quest is a movie about a group of actors led by Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) who once played in a campy television series, and that’s about as far as their careers have gone since then. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is sick of being objectified for her ample cleavage, the neurotic Alexander Dane (the late, great Alan Rickman) is peeved that he has gone from performing in Richard III to this (he abhors the line that made him famous, which is unfortunete, because at Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions he is forced to hear it- a lot.)

At a Convention and Nerd Haven for those who have no life (not that I’m not one to talk,) what appear to be some weird, ghostly pale fans beg Jason to help them save their dying race. Turns out, the ‘fans’ are real aliens, who think that Nessmith’s show is a historical document and thus, that the escapades featured on the TV show are real. Nesmith initally thinks the creatures are insane, eccentric, or both, but soon he, Gwen, Alexander and the rest of the crew (played by Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Darryl Mitchell) embark on the adventure of their lives, protecting the sweet-natured and naive Thermians from their genocidal intergalactic enemies.

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Along the way, the characters learn to embrace the roles they had grown to hate, which the innocent Thermians believe in with every inch of their alien hearts. Arrogant Jason learns not to be such a jackass, and a few romances are kindled, including one between Shaloub’s character Fred and a alien girl (Missi Pyle.) Galaxy Quest is a hysterical, feel-good movie which is appropriate for the whole family, and the majority of the jokes hit their park.

I adore Alan Rickman in this movie and his scathing annoyance at becoming a one-trick pony in the entertainment industry, his hatred for his most famous role drips off him and it is simply hilarious to watch. You don’t think actors begin to hate the roles which made them famous? Think again. One running joke involves the wimpy Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell, another one of my favorite actors,) who thinks that because he was a red-shirt in the original TV show, being broadcast for one episode before dying an untimely death, that he is destined to die in the real-life adventure. Sam Rockwell plays this comic role of a scared goofball who isn’t sure where he fits in the big picture, or if he fits at all to a T.

Not only is Galaxy Quest funny, it’s also surprisingly touching at times. The only thing I didn’t like about this movie was Tim Allen. I don’t think he’s a very good actor, and this sometimes bogs down the emotional moments. Alan Rickman is sublime, and just reminded me how much I’m going to miss his absence from upcoming films he never lived to see the creation of. I also love Sam Rockwell so much as an actor, he can handle both dramatic and comedic roles with such  grace and effortless charm. Overall, Galaxy Quest is just a funny, good-natured popcorn movie which you can take your kids to see without fear of too much crass or crude humor or potentially disturbing violence. The character-driven humor is refreshing and fun, as is the (mostly) outstanding ensemble cast. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys fun comedies that aren’t too over-the-top dirty and have a satiric basis in reality despite fantasy elements.

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