Paramount // 1999 // 101 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // May 28th, 2009
Never give up. Never Surrender!
The world should hate Tim Allen. The fact that he was actually a fairly hot comic property in the 90s always shocks and vaguely appalls me; I mean who really ever found this guy funny? So when a film starring the irksome comedian actually turns out to be anything less than gruesome, it's nothing short of cause for celebration. Few films on the man's CV could be considered in any way amusing, but along with Toy Story, the smartly scripted Trekker spoof Galaxy Quest actually netted big laughs. Indeed if any future writers actually want to test out how funny their screenplay actually is, I suggest hiring Allen and then seeing if it remains hysterical. Galaxy Quest scribes David Howard and Robert Gordon deserve a pat on the back, because despite the cyanide pill of comedians being present, their picture remains a hoot.
Twenty years after being the most famous faces on TV, the stars of nerdtastic sci-fi extravaganza Galaxy Quest have been reduced to Sci-Fi conventions and opening local superstores. After a particularly nasty geek encounter, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen, Toy Story) starts to realize his post-Quest life has gone down the crapper, until something rather spectacular happens. An interstellar race facing a holocaust has misinterpreted the low-budget TV frolics as historical documents, and they come to Nesmith for help. They want the entire crew reunited to help them battle Sarris (Robin Sachs, Ocean's Eleven), an alien warlord threatening them with utter annihilation, and in a bid to relive his glory years, Jason agrees. As a result, before they realize what they've gotten into, the cast of an ancient TV relic is fighting a space age war against a truly merciless enemy.
I have to confess that my interaction with Star Trek has been minimal over the years, and whilst it is clearly the core target in this lampoon, you don't need to be fluent in Klingon to enjoy Galaxy Quest. A well-written spoof with a host of capable comic performances, Dean Parisot's film rattles along admirably, rarely going more than a few minutes without offering a decent chuckle.
The cast are the key ingredient in making this decidedly impressive slice of satire work, Allen is never better than mediocre but all around him the supporting players shine. Sigourney Weaver (Alien) is wonderful as the show's once-busty sex icon, turned middle aged women with an inferiority complex. Weaver is obviously an actress of great ability and has dabbled in the realms of comedy multiple times in her 30-year career, but rarely to be greeted with laughs as generous as those which she provokes here. Similarly Alan Rickman (Die Hard) hands in a scene stealer of a performance as the embittered and wildly dissatisfied brain of the crew, the character broadly drawn from a certain Mr. Spock, is acid tongued and utterly fantastic, upstaging Allen's predictable Kirk impersonation with ease. Other key figures like Sam Rockwell (Frost/Nixon) and Tony Shalhoub (Cars) also shine, providing a delightfully consistent and amusing set of screen personas.
The story is ingenious within itself, and the script never misses a beat in drawing hilarity from the super serious Sci-Fi of old. Every cliché is addressed with a witty barb or inspired piece of slapstick, whilst director Parisot captures the high-energy feel in his feisty and cartoon-like control of the feature. The tone is never anything less than mocking and righteously silly, keeping the audience glued in a comedy trance of sorts, and it's not often that the movie opts for an obvious or tired joke. In this day and age when a concept as absurd and yet wonderful as Galaxy Quest arrives you have to hope the writers don't spoil it with predictable gags, but on this rarest of occasions the projects potential is all but met.
Sci-Fi fans will of course be treated to a plethora of little nudges and winks, whilst the movie has admirably tried to create the cheap and tacky feel of '70s serials and the palm sweating fever that marks out pop culture conventions. This sort of loving detail should afford the movie an even loftier place in the geek's gallery of beloved cinema, making fun of their obsessions whilst conceding clear affection for them to. The movie even manages a credible action finale, built on deliberately generic conventions, Parisot still delivers a charming and action packed finish to his own space odyssey.
This new Deluxe Edition is a solid step up from the previous release, and diehard fans might want to seriously consider a reinvestment. Virtually everything found equates to new material, a rarity when it comes to any re-packaged edition. Not many of the features from the 2000 release have made it, but seeing as what's provided here is so much better, it's hard to gripe. There is a mess of new entertaining and modestly informative featurettes whilst a rash of deleted scenes also adds extra substance to the double dip. The featurettes examine everything from the cast to the special effects, but always with a pleasant sense of humor and the movie's trademark zip. One of the highlights is a two-minute gimmick in which Sigourney Weaver sends her agent a birthday rap, far funnier than I've made it sound. Another goofy feature worth looking at is the Thermian audio track -- Thermians being a race of squeaky Martians found in the movie. Obviously it's hard to listen to the whole movie using this option, but it's a pleasant addition that further marks the DVD out as a solid re-release for fans. The film comes in a bright and highly watchable video transfer that looks to have been given a little added polish, whilst the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix should provide any earthly home entertainment system with sufficient audio boom.
Tim Allen's absence would have been preferable, but nothings perfect. Just can't help but wonder what the film might have been like with a Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell in the lead. Better is the likely answer.
An enjoyable spoof of the Star Trek way, Galaxy Quest gets a nice DVD in the form of this Deluxe Edition.
By Grabthar's Hammer, not guilty!
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Thermian)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes