Note: some parts of this post may contain spoilers.
In this post I’m going to offer a few personal thoughts on the ‘Galaxy Quest’ movie (1999) that proved to be a highly successful spoof on various features of Science Fiction films and series on TV. So, this post is not really a review or even an attempt at a comprehensive summary, but more like a very short memoir.
Although I missed seeing the film’s initial cinema release, I’ve enjoyed re-watching it a fair few times over several years and it was that very quality of standing up so well to each re-watching that led me to think about the story and characters a bit more than if it was just another comedy.
The performers and their roles: I really appreciate the variety of classy long-established performers who clearly not only ‘bought into’ the script’s story and what it could offer, but also manage to complement each other’s roles. Both key cast and supporting characters help each other achieve the overall effects the story needed to sustain its comedy and deliver the jokes.
Sigourney Weaver does a great job of playing to the humour in the double role of Lt Tawny Madison, the ‘token on-board beauty’ among the crew, and the same character in post-series years who shows up to ‘do her duty to the fans’ at the annual conventions and does corny ads too. The movie leaves it to the watcher to remember the sheer variety of serious and comic roles she has played over many years. Alan ‘Professor Snape’ Rickman brings his brilliant trademark sneer and neat timing to his twin performance as of Dr Lazarus, the prickly and aloof Chief Scientist and his actor alter-ego, Alexander Dane. Both of Rickman’s characters hold hostile aliens, his spaceship crew’s captain and his own share of post-fame fans on Earth in equal disdain. 🙂 Tim Allen, maybe best known for family sitcoms and his string of ‘Santa Clause’ movies, turns out to be the biggest surprise for me out of all the key cast. He shines in his job of delivering the sheer wacky style of his double role as Commander Peter ‘Quincy’ Taggart’ of the spaceship named NSEA Protector and as the post-series actor, Jason Naismith, who let the fame and earnings go to his head, making him deeply popular with the rest of the actors and restless fans.
Sam ‘Moon’ Rockwell makes the most of a supporting role as “that guy who got killed off early in the series” and Tony ‘Monk’ Shalhoub, as the easily-over-looked-by-other-crew character, makes his own surprisingly big contributions to the mission’s success and even “gets his girl”. She isn’t exactly an Earth Girl, but, then, at the start of the mission, he didn’t feel he fitted in anywhere on his home planet anyway. 🙂
Non-crew supporting character include: a group of very likeable geeky teenage friends who are at the convention as keen fans and get drawn into the mission and the two main groups of aliens the crew meets -the friendly and tragically misguided ones who visit Earth to seek the crew’s help on a potentially fatal rescue mission and the extremely evil, dangerous and hostile ones bent on destroying any and all opposition. In this aspect, too, the story keeps playing mischievously with various cliches and stock images of SF movies and TV series (and, of course, connections between them) through many generations of audiences and what they’ve been watching. 🙂
What does the story offer? Among many possible answers and even just suggestions that I can offer, these ones stand out for me every time: a clever and good-natured look at Science Fiction story-telling, on big and small screen; the reward/s for suspending disbelief in order to really “get into” a story; charming short scenes about deep and unlikely friendships forming in dangerous places and times; battles of Good vs Evil can produce comedy and moments of insight as well as fear and hatred.
The ‘Galaxy Quest’ movie can, on each re-watching, simply offer the same great light-as-stardust comedy and some very funny pop-culture references as the last time you saw it…but if you want to look deeper every so often, there is more to see and think about. For me, writing this blog post is a proof of that. 🙂
Settings: deep space; various locations on board the Protector; a SF convention in a very earth-bound city(probably meant to be LA) dedicated to the TV series and its fans; a harsh planet that includes a Rock Monster and some very small fanged characters that hunt in packs but also turned on each other; the suburban household of one of the key ‘fan boys’ in the story…and the house of the dissolute captain of the Quest crew. 🙂
The mix of Earth and Space settings is very well used as a substantial part of the story-telling, by providing both a decent range of scenarios to establish places of action and also to highlight the differences (that keep breaking down, with more humorous consequences for Quest crew and aliens alike) between Real Life on Earth and the strange and funny suspended-disbelief world of the old series on TV, without ‘getting in the way’ of what the characters need to do.
Hmm, I think I’ll need to watch the movie again very soon, after writing down those thoughts. 🙂
Dear Readers: if you’ve enjoyed the movie too and have your own take on it that you feel like writing about, and/or would like to respond to my post, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks. 🙂
Link for fyi/interest: I think the movie’s main entry on the International Movie Database (IMDb) site has a bit to offer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0177789/?ref_=sr_1