In Galaxy Quest (1999), the most endearing super-nurds from outer space have been minitoring our television transmissions for years, the leader of the ultra-dweebs ably played by Enrico Colantoni (of the television series Flashpoint).
These sweet aliens have patterned their culture after their favorite series, the Star Trek-like Galaxy Quest, & begin space exploration in accordance with the show's outline of noble endeavor.
Their fashion sense & haircuts are all derived from the long-cancelled television show. And they devise actual technologies that duplicate the imaginary ones of the series.
As their pathologically honest race does not understand concepts of storytelling, acting, or deception, they always believed the shows were historical documents.
When their planet is attacked by a very evil race led by lizard-general Sarris (Robin Sachs) intent on taking every advantage of the Thermians' naivete & harmlessness, the only plan they can come up with is to get help.
They fetch the Commander Taggart (Tim Allen) of the Galaxy Quest's equivalent of the Starship Enterprise, called the Protector. The Thermians have no comprehension that Taggart is really just an actor, James Nesmith.
Ultimately they grab the other burnt-out imbittered Galaxy Quest cast, whose post-series careers have reduced them to guest appearances in their character-costumes at science fiction conventions.
These include Alan Rickman as the Spock parallel, Sigourney Weaver as, I suppose, the Captain Janeway parallel, Tony Shalhoub as the engineer Scotty parallel, Sam Rockwell as the "doomed extra crew member in red shirt."
Nabbed from a sci-fi con in full costume, they're ready to pass for what the Thermians wish they really were.
The television cast eventually comprehends they're with a race of gullible extraterrestrial dweebs, who've placed their fate in the hands of the crew of an imaginary space ship which the Thermians have made real.
At first confused, then unwiling, but ultimately invigorated, all the cast members from the show throw themselves into their roles with greater earnest than ever before.
There are so many high points in this surprisingly touching comedy, but the tragic moment when the Thermians finally learn the meaning of storytelling & of lying, is alone worth the movie. The disappointment that their society's heroes are frauds is greater than the terror of realizing their planet is therefore doomed. That is, unless the crew really can rally to be that which they had formerly only acted at being.
With an A budget, the nurd planet & their space technology is depicted as well or better than in many a serious sci-fi epic. And the characters however absurdist & satiric in design are nevertheless played with caring believability.
This is a loving if roundabout homage to Star Trek fandom, & has its climax back at a Galaxy Quest Convention that is totally, thrillingly a delight. None of the humor aims below the belt at the "Trekkies can't get laid & live in their mothers' basements" sort of thing that's just way too easy.
Rather, it builds surprisingly respectful laughs upon the idealism & decency of fans. Which is probably why the script received, for "best dramatic presentation," the most coveted of all honors for science fiction, the Hugo Award.
Both as parody & as meaningful story in its own right, the perfection of Galaxy Quest never misses a beat. With people whose lives are in tatters discovering meaning & renewal, this is witty & laugh-out-loud funny. Such effective humor is so rarely found in concert with pure human decency. Yet neitehr does it descend into either mawkish sentimentality. Even for a curmudgeony old cynic like me, the film is a dream.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl