The stars of an old but popular science fiction show, Galaxy Quest, find themselves transported across space to help aliens who think the shows are historical documents and therefore real. What starts as a fun adventure descends into a more dangerous situation when they find out that the enemy is waging a genocidal war against the child-like aliens. The actors must work together to save their new friends and find their true spirits of adventure.
Galaxy Quest (1999) – Director: Dean Parisot
Running Length: 102 mins
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman
Genre: Comedy, Sci Fi, Action/Adventure
Widely acknowledged as one of the best ‘Star Trek’ parodies of recent years, ‘Galaxy Quest’ respectfully makes fun of the show and its fandom, managing to appeal to both science fiction fans and those without any interest in the genre. While there are plenty of gags for ‘Trek’ fans, the sharp and witty script will keep everyone laughing all the way through. The conventions that the stars attend show exactly what might be expected of any Star Trek convention; normal fans, obsessive fans, costumes and technical questions that the stars can’t hope to answer.
Alan Rickman’s performance as the frustrated thespian, Alexander Dane, steals the show, giving a much-needed ‘straight man’ to the otherwise comedic roles of his co-stars. Sam Rockwell’s obsession of being the expendable security officer and the friendly but strange Thermian aliens keep the comedy constantly flowing. Director, Parisot clearly has his finger on the pulse of what will make the audience laugh and stay gripped to the story although it is a bit of a shame that when Allen’s character, Jason Nesmith, first realises that the aliens and their plight are real, he doesn’t take it more seriously and is rather gung-ho and callous with their lives. However, he and his fellow ‘Galaxy Quest’ stars are soon plunged into further danger and their attitudes change, becoming much more protective of their new friends. Despite its success with both critics and audiences, ‘Galaxy Quest’ is still somewhat unknown, being unfairly deemed as only appealing to sci-fi geeks. Instead, it is a witty, laugh-out-loud comedy movie which just happens to be set in outer space and we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
IS ‘GALAXY QUEST’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Sigourney Weaver’s character, Gwen, played a stereotypically token female within the Galaxy Quest TV show. The ‘non-character’ of her role is discussed as a point of frustration including how her costume is unnecessarily revealing. As she is taken to the Thermian ship from a ‘Galaxy Quest’ convention, she is still wearing her costume. It is very tight and the top is quite low-cut, showing a bit of cleavage. Towards the end of the movie, as there is a lot of action, Gwen’s top is almost completely open and reveals her bra. However, there are no references to her clothing from her male counterparts and they treat her with the same respect as each other. There are also a few mild sexual references in the script. Gwen talks about her frustration of being stereotyped in a magazine article saying that there were ‘6 paragraphs about my boobs and how they fit into my suit’. Gwen also makes a throw-away comment about how Jason often slept with the women who starred in the ‘Galaxy Quest’ show.
Similarly, one of the ‘Galaxy Quest’ stars falls in love with one of the Thermian aliens and in a comedy scene, they kiss passionately and drop to the floor, out of shot. Another character is in the room with them and says ‘get a room’ and ‘oh, that’s not right!’. Lastly, when describing how the evil, Sarris has been treating them, one of the Thermian’s explains that he ‘tortured our scientists’ and ‘captured our females for his own demented purposes’.
When the cast of ‘Galaxy Quest’ are first transported to the Thermian ship, the transporter device leaves them unable to move and there are shouts and screams at the door. They all look terrified, then strange alien creatures come through the door and hold sharp metal instruments near their heads. This is very much a comedy moment but it could be a little intense for young kids. The ‘Galaxy Quest’ crew are later shown footage of the Thermian’s previous captain being tortured by Sarris. As he looks like a big blob, the audience does not see any pain on his face, however it screams several times and those watching the footage wince each time. This captain then says in a mild, weak voice ‘If you have any mercy within you, please, let me die’ to which Sarris answers ‘When I grow weary of the noises you make, you shall die’. Again, this could be a little distressing for younger children.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
While there are a few scary moments in ‘Galaxy Quest’, the comedy is so constant that any feelings of distress are unlikely to linger. It is nice to watch a movie where all the characters are likeable and the funny moments can appeal to all ages. We feel that this movie is appropriate for kids aged 6 and over but it is very much a family movie and will keep the adults entertained just as much as the children.
- Violence: 2/5 (Sarris is seen to torture the previous captain as well as another Thermian (albeit briefly). He then orders the oxygen to be removed from the area that all the Thermians are in. The audience is shown brief footage of the Thermian’s struggling for air but none of this is too graphic. Sarris has also killed his Lieutenant, holding his head aloft, however this is not particularly scary)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (One of the Thermian’s is killed which affects one of the ‘Galaxy Quest’ crew quite badly, however this character quickly composes himself and finds the strength to fight back against Sarris’ crew)
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 1/5 (Gwen’s clothing, particularly towards of the end of the movie is quite revealing and there are mentions of Jason’s womanising but there is nothing explicit in the script)
- Bad Language: 2/5 (some mild cursing and blasphemy, one use of a moderate word)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (Sarris provides many threats to the ‘Galaxy Quest’ crew and the Thermians. His actions against his enemies suggests that he would be prepared to carry out these threats)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, teamwork, protecting those who are weaker than you living up to your full potential.
Words by Laura Record
You don't have to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy Galaxy Quest, but it certainly helps. A knowingly affectionate tribute to Trek and any other science fiction TV series of the 1960s and beyond, this crowd-pleasing comedy offers in-jokes at warp speed, hitting the bull's-eye for anyone who knows that: (1) the starship captain always removes his shirt to display his manly physique; (2) any crew member not in the regular cast is dead meat; and (3) the heroes always stop the doomsday clock with one second to spare. So it is with Commander Taggart (Tim Allen) and the stalwart crew of the NSEA Protector, whose intergalactic exploits on TV have now been reduced to a dreary cycle of fan conventions and promotional appearances. That's when the Thermians arrive, begging to be saved from Sarris, the reptilian villain who threatens to destroy their home planet.
Can actors rise to the challenge and play their roles for real? The Thermians are counting on it, having studied the "historical documents" of the Galaxy Quest TV show, and their hero worship (not to mention their taste for Monte Cristo sandwiches) is ultimately proven worthy, with the help of some Galaxy geeks on planet Earth. And while Galaxy Quest serves up great special effects and impressive Stan Winston creatures, director Dean Parisot (Home Fries) is never condescending, lending warm acceptance to this gentle send-up of sci-fi TV and the phenomenon of fandom. Best of all is the splendid cast, including Sigourney Weaver as buxom blonde Gwen DeMarco; Alan Rickman as frustrated thespian Alexander Dane; Tony Shalhoub as dimwit Fred Kwan; Daryl Mitchell as former child-star Tommy Webber; and Enrico Colantoni as Thermian leader Mathesar, whose sing-song voice is a comedic coup de grâce. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com