Friday, April 5, 2013

Movie #186: Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest is a comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub, Sam Rockwell, Dayrl Mitchell and Alan Rickman.

Back in the 70s or 80s, the TV show Galaxy Quest was popular, if cheesy. Now, years after it's been cancelled, the cast are doing appearances at cons and openings of stores, wearing their uniforms and spouting their catchphrases, and generally loathing it. Only Jason Nesmith (Allen), who played the dashing Captain Peter Taggart, seems to be really enjoying it, but that's only because he's soaking up the adulation and not realizing how much the rest of the cast can't stand him.

And then he gets a visit from Mathasar (Enrico Colantoni), an alien from planet Thermia, who asks for the heroic captain of the NSEA Protector to come help negotiate a peace treaty with a lionfish-like monster called Sarris (Robin Sachs). Thinking it's gig at first (he's hung over and kind of oblivious), he screws it up, but then brings the rest of the cast with him to help. They get in far over their heads, but of course, they manage to pull it out at the end, destroy Sarris, save the Thermians, and return to Earth in time to start a reboot of their show.

OK, now, obviously this is all based on Star Trek. The obsessive fans, the hokey effects, the tradition of killing off an extra to show that the situation is serious (said "extra" is Guy Fleegman, played by Rockwell, in a brilliant bit of meta-humor - he knows exactly what genre he's in and it terrifies him), the boobtastic token woman (Weaver), and so forth. I've seen people saying that maybe it would have been better to get the actual cast, but I don't think so.

For one thing, they're old. They wouldn't have the same ability to do the physical stuff that this younger cast did. For another, then it wouldn't be parody. Then it would making actual comment on the actual Star Trek community, and while there might be a certain charm in seeing Shatner and Nichols and Nimoy and so on battling "real" aliens, then you couldn't just pick the bits of the series that needed to get lampooned. You'd have to make real callouts to real episodes, and then when Taggart says "I think we all know what happened to that [whatever] in episode [whatever]," half the audience would laugh and the other half would feel like they'd missed the joke. But here, the joke is that the fans do have that connection, and we all get that part, so we don't need to know the particulars (this is also why I enjoy Abrams' remake of Star Trek, but we'll get to S eventually).

The cast is amazing. I'm not a fan of Allen particularly, but he's awesome in this role. Could've done without the tacked-on romance between him and Weaver, but eh. Rickman is far and away the best part of the movie. He never loses his "alien" makeup, so we never quite see him, but his portrayal of Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus, a sophisticated, skilled actor dealing with the fannish nature of sci-fi and almost losing it, is amazing, especially as he shows some real love and regard for the people around him.

Teagan and Cael watched this movie with us, and it was really awesome to see Teagan getting excited by it - she's never seen these tropes, and so she doesn't know what to expect. So when she sees the ship for the first time, it's impressive and exciting and she feels the same "whoa" the characters do. That made it better, I gotta say.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: The Game