Galaxy Quest, the Star Trek send-up, still remains a sci-fi comedy classic as fans across the globe celebrate the 20th anniversary.
No list of the all-time best comedies can be complete without Galaxy Quest. To make such a list without this cult classic would be–By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan–illogical to say the least. When I first saw the film, I had never been initiated into the Star Trek universe. A real introduction would not come for another decade with the release of the reboot before later watching the original and Next Generation films through Netflix.
Imagine going to a Star Trek convention. Now imagine being kidnapped by aliens who believe that the series is real. Well, I’ve got some news for you because this is exactly what happens. The difference being that the cast of Galaxy Quest finds their way into space. It starts when the Thermians–led by Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni)–bring Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who portrayed Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, to a fully-recreated version of the NSEA Protector. As a ship, the Protector could rival both the Enterprise and Orville. Jason originally things the Thermians are just die-hard fans wanting to do serious cosplay. When one considers how die-hard some fans can be, this thought is not a far-fetched idea.
With Jason Nesmith getting most of the attention, there’s some animosity with the rest of the cast. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), who portrayed science officer Dr. Lazarus, is the Spock stand-in. The thing here is that he would rather be act in a theater rather than attend conventions. Naturally, there’s some tension between the two of them. The film gets some sci-fi credibility with Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), who portrayed communications officer Lieutenant Tawny Madison. Weaver is one of the few actors in the film with bonafide sci-fi credentials. Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) portrayed chief engineer Tech Sergeant Chen. Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) was a child actor when he portrayed Lieutenant Laredo. Finally, Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) is the typical redshirt.
All of a sudden, a television series cast finds themselves in the middle of an intergalactic conflict. The crew joins the Thermians in taking on the villainous General Sarris (Robin Sachs). He’s a stand-in for the Klingons or Romulans. Unlike the Thermians, Sarris has never seen the “historical documents.” How the series made its way far across the galaxy is beyond me! Meanwhile, Sarris and his crew have history with the Thermians. They don’t like each other at all.
What helps drive Galaxy Quest home is that this film really is a love letter to sci-fi fans. There may be a few moments here and there but there’s one moment that is super important. We have a moment in the film where Jason contacts die-hard fan Brandon (Justin Long, in his film debut) to get some help with navigating the ship. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are people similar to Brandon in real life. Anyway, it’s moments like this that help to humanize the film and give it back some of the humanity. Can you imagine someone from Star Wars or Star Trek depending on a fan to save the day?
Years later, this is a film that really holds up. It should be celebrated for what it is for what it is. Saying that Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek film of all-time would not be unfair. There’s so much homage in the film to the classic that inspired a generation of fans. Moreover, comic con culture has grown tremendously. Naturally, it makes since that Galaxy Quest‘s appeal has also grown over the years. We can love the film for being a Star Trek parody but still appreciate its love for sci-fi fandom. Hell, years later we have The Orville on television/Hulu. It is still hopeful that the cast of Galaxy Quest will return for a series on Amazon. Alan Rickman’s passing does lead to some questions in that regard but never give up, never surrender.
DIRECTOR: Dean Parisot
SCREENWRITERS: David Howard and Robert Gordon
CAST: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Robin Sachs, Patrick Breen