Galaxy Quest
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1999; Rated PG; 104 Minutes

Tim Allen: Jason Nesmith/Commander Peter Taggart
Sigourney Weaver: Gwen DeMarco/Lt. Tawny Madison
Tony Shalhoub: Fred Kwan/Tech Sergeant Chen
Daryl Mitchell: Tommy Webber/Lt. Laredo
Enrico Colantoni: Mathesar
Sam Rockwell: Guy Fleegman
Missi Pyle: Laliari

Produced by Suzann Ellis, Sona Gourgouris, Mark Johnson and Charles Newirth; Directed by Dean Parisot; Screenwritten by Robert Gordon and David Howard

Review Uploaded

Written by DAVID KEYES

Watching a television sci-fi program is like peering into the imagination of 6-year old; in both cases, neither are tangible because the journeys, and therefore the images in front of them, tend to be cheesier than most summer blockbusters. They assault the eyes almost as much as they insult intelligence, because illogical storylines and ugly visuals (even for science fiction) leave viewers staring on in utter disbelief. Would this explain why "Lost In Space" and "Star Trek" are two of the worst television shows in existence? Possibly. But the more appropriate evidence lies in projects intended to poke fun at the lunacy of the broadcasts. Take "Galaxy Quest" as the first example: this new farce on television nonsense uses those cheesy media aspects on an intentional basis, not to any purpose of inducing audience hate, but to generate satirical responsiveness. It's simple stuff with an urge to poke fun at a media nemesis. The movie illustrates almost enough grotesque imagery to back up a court case against outrageous media programming.

The film stars Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen in roles within other roles. They play two actors of an old, long-ago canceled television show called "Galaxy Quest," which was a hit in its day but has now become one of those "Star Trek"-esque legends in which the only hope of spotting the stars is by attending one of their conventions. Yes, they've fallen into that trap that every actor fears: unemployment. Without the conventions, no one would even realize they were alive.

Then one day, there is a distress call sent to Earth. An alien race called the Thermians have been dispatched into a massive intergalactic war with their nemesis Sarris. Asking for help, they demand the cast of "Galaxy Quest." But what for, you ask? It seems the aliens have taken the show too seriously, and believe that the actors are a real space fleet who can help them in their time of need. The actors in turn believe that this entire mission is merely a hoax brought on by remaining fans of the series; as a result, they cheerfully reassume their television roles and are sent off into space.

Irony intervenes as the battles, the creatures, and the journey through space are represented by imagery that would even make the stars of "Lost In Space" break character. It is a necessity for television to exaggerate presumptions of intergalactic visuals, but how often do the exaggerations reflect those of reality? For the actors within the "Galaxy Quest" cast, the similarity between the cheese of television imagery and that of reality is almost nostalgic, and helps them sabotage the feeling that they are actually on a real journey filled with perilous dangers. In this regard, the actors feel like they're back on the sets of their show, reliving those good ol' days when they weren't skeptical about employment opportunities.

Director Dean Parisot is right on target with this script, taking us through all the television science fiction clichés at a pace we can easily understand and keep up with. The satirical edge of his characters help enlighten the mood when some of the on-screen sights become too overwhelming to handle, and they offer humorous portrayals of actors who struggle to find work after the syndication of "Galaxy Quest." Tim Allen can most identify with his role as the captain aboard this television epic; in real life, his comedy "Home Improvement" was canceled earlier this year after an extensive run on ABC, leaving us to wonder, "will he be the next unemployed sitcom star?"

As for the source material itself, it's not much better than the television sci-fi cheese it tries to satirize. The movie comes just a few months after a similarly-constructed comedy called "Mystery Men," and by comparison, the earlier is a much more funny, hard-edged and wacky look at the absurdity of media fantasy; the latter is only amusing on the surface level, and fails to be much more than just a mild farce with smiles and some minor laughs attached. A sense of melodramatic manipulation provoked in certain scenes, which undermines most of the comedic plight, doesn't help much either.

But don't write off the film just because of a few quibbles; "Galaxy Quest" is easily a recommendable product. It has fun with the characters, the dilemmas, the imagery, and source of inspiration. Without genuine depth, however, the film will have a hard time reeling in a widespread audience.

© 1999, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
All published materials contained herein are owned by their respective authors and cannot be reprinted, either in their entirety or in selection, without the expressed written consent of the writers.

© 2007