Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.
The sci-fi television series "Galaxy Quest", which took place aboard the intergalactic spaceship NSEA Protector, starred Jason Nesmith as suave Commander Peter Quincy Taggert, Gwen DeMarco as sexy communications person Lt. Tawny Madison (a role which consisted solely of repeating what the computer stated, much to Gwen's annoyance), Shakespearean trained Sir Alexander Dane as alien Dr. Lazarus, Fred Kwan as engineer Tech Sgt. Chen, and Tommy Webber as child gunner Laredo. Eighteen years after the series last aired, it lives on in the hearts of its rabid fans. However, it lives on in infamy for its stars, who have not been able to find meaningful acting work since. Their current lives revolve around cashing in on however those roles will afford, which usually entails attending fan conventions or worse, such as shopping mall openings. Only Jason seems to relish his lot in life, until he finds out that his co-stars detest him because of his superior attitude as "the Commander", and much ... Written by
Comedies are usually pretty tricky for me. Either I'm laughing my head off and nobody else gets it, or everybody else is laughing and I'm looking for the nearest exit. But Galaxy Quest had everyone in the theater laughing, including my companion--who hates science fiction. It cut across ages and backgrounds with a very simple premise--you are what you believe yourself to be.
As a fifteen year veteran of science fiction conventions, I've seen the phenomenon from both sides of the stage. I've met the get-a-lifers, the just-for-fun guys, and the not-so-rare I'm-only-in-it-for-the profit gang. I've met actors who loved the whole shebang, actors who loathed it, and actors who didn't have a clue what was going on. Fandom is a very big place, with room for all sorts.
And Galaxy Quest got it right--the conventions, the costumes, the geeks, the groupies, even the mocking "mundanes" who attend cons looking for kicks. It took notice of all the science fiction cliches, acknowledged them, and then twisted them to its own comedic purposes.
Galaxy Quest captured not only the silliness of fandom, but the inspiration of it. In the end, the demoralized and cynical actors found strength and meaning in the same characters which stereotyped them. The geeks saved the day. The good guys won. The bad guys provided entertainment to masses of fans. Things blew up. And isn't that what science fiction is all about?
The entire cast was excellent, especially Tim Allen and Alan Rickman doing their best Shatner and Nimoy impersonations. Special credit must go to the four actors who played the naive aliens. Their wide-eyed innocence reminded me of the quality that drew me, and draws children of all ages into the world of science fiction.
This movie didn't rely on vulgarities or overt violence. It didn't need to resort to meanness or cruel jokes, either. While it poked fun at science fiction and its fans, it never resorted to the kind of mockery you see in other films.
Galaxy Quest is a solid, funny movie. Go see it. Take the kids. Go see it twice.
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