WFTB Score: 12/20
The plot: The stars of TV space action show Galaxy Quest have their convention-attending schedule disrupted by the appearance of particularly convincing aliens. Put in charge of a working replica of their fake ship, the crew of the Protector must put on the performance of a lifetime to save their lives as well as the race that adore them.
A kind-hearted parody of both the original Star Trek TV show and the convention culture of its fans, Galaxy Quest is an amiable comedy that raises smiles of recognition as well as laughs from the jokes themselves. Of course, the central joke will be entirely lost on anyone unfamiliar with both Trek and Trekkies/Trekkers, but that sort of viewer is unlikely to be drawn to this film in any event.
The film’s plot is nicely drawn out, the cast of the TV series initially portrayed as jaded and bickering, bitter at never having outgrown the show. A pleasant but gullible race called the Thermians make contact with lead actor and Shatner/Kirk-alike Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), famous for his role as Captain Peter Taggart; they ask for his assistance in a war against aggressive green enemies and, taking them for particularly devoted fans, he agrees to go to their ‘ship.’
In a nice twist, the Thermians reveal that not only do they consider the Galaxy Quest shows to be historical documents, they have based their technology on the programme too, helping the actors to be instantly familiar with the deck of the Protector II. It is a little difficult to believe that a race so outwardly simple is capable of such technological achievement, but they have a non-humanoid form too which is perhaps capable of great things.
Otherwise, the plot is pretty standard, and one you will have seen before if you have watched The Three Amigos or A Bugs’ Life. Familiarity is also an issue with other elements of the film: yes, it’s quite funny, but a lot of Star Trek is funny, intentionally or otherwise (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is essentially a comedy).
Also, the science fiction aspects of the film are adequate, but nothing more. Although they look very nice, action sequences involving the Protector are not as exciting as authentic Trek (the ship takes a lot of hits but the consequences seem minimal); aspects such as teleportation and the time-reversal device are used glibly too, with the actors proving rather too good at the job in hand and not particularly fazed by the extraordinary situation they find themselves in.
I haven’t made much mention of the cast, but they are fine in their dual roles. Allen is good as the overbearing star, although he is lumbered with re-learning a sense of pride in being a role-model (the geeky fans he insults at the start of the film end up being vital to the success of the mission). Alan Rickman is entertaining in morose, Frankie Howard-style as the semi-alien Science officer with a ruined Shakespearean career and preposterous catchphrase.
Sigourney Weaver and Tony Shalhoub fill out the Ohura and Scotty roles respectively, whilst Sam Rockwell enjoys his role as Guy, convinced – because his character has no surname – that he will be killed off as the expendable extra. Finally, Daryl Mitchell plays Lt Laredo, the former child actor who pilots the ship. His appearance as the sole black character may be a nod to the tokenism of Star Trek, but nothing is made of this in the script and the character does nothing of much interest.
To sum up, then: although it aims for the stars, Galaxy Quest never reaches the heights it hopes for, falling between the two stools of comedy and Science Fiction. Nevertheless, it’s easy on the eye and brain, always good for a giggle, and a perfectly decent choice if you are after undemanding Friday night fare.