Director: Dean Parisot
I’m honestly surprised Galaxy Quest still has to qualify as a “Hidden Gem.”
The movie did fine on initial release but over time has gained a cult following. Don’t worry about not having seen it as long as you make a date to watch it on Netflix at some point in the near future.
Galaxy Quest follows a group of former stars on a Star Trek inspired television show that becomes part of an actual space adventure. Initially, the movie starts as a hard riff on Star Trek. The crew of a once popular science fiction show now make a living by appearing at conventions or grand opening ceremonies. With the exception of Tim Allen’s character, a likable but selfish buffoon, everyone has grown tired and bitter of their life. None have been successful at moving past their time in the spotlight and are all unable to get any more serious acting gigs. After overhearing a harsh comment from someone at a convention, Tim Allen’s Jason Nesmith lashes out at a group of young fans and leaves the convention early to get hammered at home. When a group of real life aliens – Thermians – take him to space for advice in dealing with a genocidal alien menace, the film gradually shows what it’s really about: the relationship between fandom and stardom.
One cannot exist without the other. As much as a love letter as this movie is to all things Star Trek (we’ll talk about that in a minute), Galaxy Quest also works as a thank you from fans to the stars, and vice versa. If you’re reading articles like mine (thank you, by the way) there’s a good chance some sort of fictional storytelling has affected your life in some way. Whether it’s positive or negative, stories have the potential to resonate with audiences everywhere, especially when there are aspects of ourselves in these stories. A popular television show or movie franchise can’t stay popular without the support of fans, and fans have nothing to latch onto without likable stars. The crew of the fictional Galaxy Quest show don’t fall into their roles from the show without the help of their fans on Earth and in space. Galaxy Quest never bashes you over the head with this idea and is never oversentimental about it. And it’s not afraid to poke fun at some of the sillier aspects of the movies/television shows we love, or the ones who adore it.
To succeed at parody, you must love what you parody – flaws and all. And boy do these guys love Star Trek. They know every bad trope, every moment that excites us, and how to pack it all in an emotional little package. Emotion is all derived from our attachment to the crew and this crew is lovable as hell. Tim Allen fills out the William Shatner/Captain Kirk role with Alan Rickman going for Spock and a grumpy British thespian. Sigourney Weaver makes up for Alien: Resurrection by pretty much repeating her role in Ghostbusters but she’s Sigourney Weaver and she demands our respect, dammit. Tony Shalhoub’s character of Fred Kwan was originally supposed to be played by an Asian actor, so to add to the confusion, Shalhoub played Kwan as a pothead (When I first heard that here, it all made sense). Rounding out the perfectly cast group of comedic supporting characters is Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber and Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman. Tommy Webber’s fictional character who pilots the Protector on the fictional show, ends up taking up the entire movie to learn how to properly fly it in real life. Anything and everything that goes wrong with Tommy flying the ship, absolutely does. Sam Rockwell gets to work on multiple levels in this movie: 1) A stand-in for the viewer. 2) The obligatory redshirt. 3) the plucky comic relief. Rockwell makes all of these work to induce some hearty belly laughs from me but I don’t think anything will ever top his realization that he’s crewmember #6. Rockwell sells that moment like it’s a firesale.
Galaxy Quest is Ghostbusters for the science fiction crowd. It’s a love letter to Star Trek and its fans everywhere. It’s on Netflix Instant and you should watch it as soon as possible. #NeverGiveUpNeverSurrender