Galaxy Quest (1999)
The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help. However, they also have to defend both Earth and the alien race from a reptilian warlord.
The sci-fi television series "Galaxy Quest", which took place aboard the intergalactic spaceship NSEA Protector, starred Jason Nesmith as suave Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Gwen DeMarco as sexy communications person Lt. Tawny Madison (a role which consisted solely of repeating what the computer stated, much to Gwen's chagrin), Shakespearean trained Sir Alexander Dane as alien Dr. Lazarus, Fred Kwan as engineer Tech Sergeant Chen, and Tommy Webber as child pilot 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 electronic store 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 of the public considers him a laughing stock. Their lives change when Jason is approached by who he thinks are convention fans asking for help. They are in reality an alien race called Thermians, led by Mathesar, who have modeled their existence after the series, which they believe to be real. When Jason and then the rest of his co-stars (along with Guy Fleegman, who was killed off before the opening credits in only one episode) go along with the Thermians, Jason's co-stars who believe they are off to yet another paying gig, they learn that they have to portray their roles for real. Without screenwriters to get them to a happy and heroic ending, they have to trust that their play acting will work, especially in dealing with the Thermians' nemesis, General Sarris. Guy in particular fears that he will go the way his character did on the series. But when they run across technical issues that they as actors didn't care anything about during the filming of the series and thus now don't know how to deal with, they need to find someone who should know what to do.
The sci-fi adventure series "Galaxy Quest" took place aboard the intergalactic spaceship NSEA Protector. Eighteen years after their series was canceled, actors Jason Nesmith, Gwen DeMarco, Sir Alexander Dane, Tommy Webber and Fred Kwan (along with Guy Fleegman) are making appearances in costume and character at sci-fi conventions and electronic store openings. The cast members are wallowing in despair and at each other's throats until aliens known as Thermians arrive and, having mistaken the series for reality and consequently modeling their entire culture around this, take them into outer space to save them from the genocidal warlord General Sarris.
- Galaxy Quest was once a popular geek television series that eventually got cancelled but was so popular among a cult group that it has spawned 18 annual conventions where fans gather, often in costumes based on the series, to watch old episodes, meet cast members and actors who played even small roles on single episodes. At Galaxy Quest 18, hosted by Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell), an actor who played in episode 81 and died by the first commercial, the fans are seeing a lost episode which is part one of a two-parter dealing with the Omega 13 device. As this episode is screening in the main room, back stage sits the original cast and crew:
Sir Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), who played half human/half alien Dr. Lazarus and laments about how he was once a great actor on the English stage. The beautiful and voluptuous Gwen DeMarco who played sexy communications officer Lt. Tawny Madison (Sigourney Weaver), and whose duty on the ship was to repeat what the computer said, complains that her TV Guide article was all about her bustline and how it fit into her uniform. Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell), the child actor who has since grown up and found no life other than Galaxy Quest conventions remarks about how the commander and star of the series Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) is more than an hour late.
Nesmith finally shows up and gets into the "been there, done that" groove asking if Dane has already done his "I was once an actor" thing. This, plus the fact the Nesmith is about to do a solo gig without the rest of the cast almost has everyone walking out of the dressing room and heading for home, as Jason tries to explain the gig is a couple of kids with cardboard in a garage and is nothing major. Out on the convention floor, Guy now starts introducing the crew of Galaxy Quest, who snap into their roles, especially Dane after Nesmith says the magic words to convince him that "The show must go on!" They go outside to the waiting fans, the spotlights and the roar of the crowds to sit down and sign autographs and give the fans a taste of the dream.
Gwen happens to smile at Nesmith, basically because Tommy told a hysterically funny and true crack about the fans loving Nesmith almost as much as Nesmith loves himself. In that brief moment, Nesmith sees Gwen and remembers times that once were and hopes for a rekindling of an old on the set romance, which Gwen promptly shoots down when fans ask her if she and the commander once had a thing and Gwen replies, as Nesmith comes up behind her, they never have.
Gwen is ushered off by officials to do a look-alike Tawny Madison and fans in costume photo shoot. Nesmith tries to follow and is confronted by Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni), an actual alien come to Earth to seek the help of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, the character played by Nesmith on Galaxy Quest. Nesmith thinks this is the group of kids who are paying him to do an appearance in their garage tomorrow and tells them to keep things hush-hush, finalize details with his agent and bring a limousine. The brushed off alien contingent mutter a little and go off to do as he asked, while Nesmith tries to corner Gwen who brushes him off with a "it was cute before I got to know you" line.
Nesmith eventually goes into the men's room and locks himself in a commode where he overhears two non-geeks who are mocking the whole Galaxy Quest event and participants and calling the stars losers who haven't done anything in acting since the series ended, especially Nesmith who is bad-mouthed by his co-stars. Nesmith gets a wake up call and falls totally out of character for the rest of the day. He signs autographs with a "phone it in" mentality, doesn't look at the fans and when confronted by the real hosts of his next day gig turns on them, gets angry and informs them it's just a television series. Gwen overhears this and later that night speaks with fellow co-star Dane about this on the telephone from their respective homes. She expresses concern about Nesmith and Dane just expresses contempt for the whole thing.
Nesmith climbs into a bottle of booze on ice watching episodes of Galaxy Quest on television and waking up when Mathesar and his fellow aliens come knocking at Nesmith's back door. Nesmith doesn't quite rise to the occasion and more like crawls around in his shirt and underwear looking for shoes. Eventually, they all get into a limousine and head to the gig with Nesmith trying to make a play for the pretty alien girl Laliari (Missi Pyle), who cannot speak because her translator device broke. Nesmith asks for Coca-Cola and promptly takes a nap as they explain the situation to him on the way up to the ship, which is the real starship NSEA Protector.
Once there, the unshaven, groggy and very unkempt Nesmith is taken to the bridge where he confronts the evil reptilian warlord Sarris (Robin Sachs) on the video screen. Nesmith arrogantly but wittily orders them to fire blue and fire red and fire other things. He says that should take care of Sarris and then he asks to be taken back home to Earth. Mathesar really appreciates that Nesmith, unaware of the importance of his actions, has saved his people. Nesmith is shown into a room where he is covered by goop that turns into a plastic shell and then he is shot out into space, landing at his home by his swimming pool in a state of shock.
Unshaven and unkempt, he runs to the electronics store opening they have been contracted to do and informs his fellow actors about his real adventures in space with the termites as he calls them. Everyone thinks he's drunk and crazy, even after Mathesar and his fellow aliens show up and want him and the crew to come up and negotiate with Sarris. Nesmith tries to convince his fellow actors to come along and help him. Instead, they all give Nesmith the brush off and leave, climbing into the same van hostile and critical, except for Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) who played Tech Sergeant Chen on the series and said they all should have taken the gig because who knows when Nesmith would offer them a gig again!
They all say "A gig?", looking at each other, getting out of the van and meeting up with Laliari, whose image remains on Earth as Nesmith thought they might change their minds. They believe this is another performance opportunity that Nesmith is hogging to himself, and demand that they join Nesmith aboard the Protector. Laliari orders up pods for all of them, and in short order, the acting crew of Galaxy Quest realize they are now on the real deal in outer space and that's a little more reality than they were planning on. We see the aliens in their real form for the first time and they are a type of pastel octopus or squid who use a device to take human shape and speech.
Fred Kwan is the only one of the finished actors who's so crazy he's here now, probably on account of too much Hollywood living, he's the only one blindly up for the adventure. Deep down inside, he's as crazy as Nesmith only this didn't take him a first time to be that crazy. Gwen and Dane are the only sane ones who think it's totally insane to do this gig! Tommy is trying to deal with all this. They get a tour of the spacedock, go aboard the ship where they get more of a tour, and meet the crew and other termites as Nesmith calls them. They take their places on the bridge, take the ship out into space to meet with Sarris, and were in real danger.
We learn that Mathesar and his people think Earth television is serious documentary news and that series like Galaxy Quest and Gilligan's Island are reality television or new reports like the war in Iraq. Gwen and Dane take issue with Nesmith who's going along with this blindly because they think he's on an ego trip and maybe he is! He sure likes inspecting the troops. The audience eventually discovers that Sarris had captured and tortured the last commander who told Sarris all about things on Galaxy Quest, including the coveted Omega 13 device, which Sarris wants to own at all costs. The Thermians don't know what the Omega 13 does, but badly-constructed, the device will disintegrate every matter atom in the universe. However, nobody knows where it is.
This sends the actors packing, except for Nesmith who still thinks he can deal with Sarris. However, Nesmith has to deal with him as Sarris has arrived and they must confront him. The Thermians have constructed the Protector exactly to the series' specifications but don't know how to operate her. Sarris overhears Nesmith speaking about his plans of attacking him with all their weapons because Gwen didn't follow Nesmith's order to cease the microphone, so he shoots first. The engine dies off, but synergy leads the Protector to the Tothian Minefield abandoned since an old war. When they leave the minefield, the Protector takes heavy damage, disabling their power core.
The crew tries to explain that the Galaxy Quest adventures are merely fiction, not historical documents, but the concept doesn't entirely resonate with the aliens: they have just started to understand the concept of lies and deceit as Sarris promises something and then does another thing. A new sphere of the energy source called Beryllium is found on a planet nearby, so they have to go and pick them. Arriving to the planet where the sphere is, it looks like the rocky Nevada desert, and they can breathe naturally. A kind of home appears. Some cute little monkeys are working on the mines. Guy is worried that he's the extra - the sixth crew member - who hasn't got even a simple surname. One of the cute little monkeys is weak and sick, so the rest of the mining monkeys consume it alive.
The crew attempts to steal one of the Beryllium spheres by rolling it away. Hundreds of monkeys appear. The Protector leaves with the sphere but without Nesmith, as Lazarus complains that Nesmith needs to be always the main protagonist. A large animal is about to consume Nesmith. The animal is transported, however turned inside out and exploded. The monkeys keep on shouting "Gorignak", which is an enormous rock monster. Finally, Nesmith is transported to the Protector. Back on the Protector, Sarris has invaded the starship. Apart from that, Nesmith is told that there are no more people on planet Earth. Nesmith says that there's no use in torturing Mathesar, as he doesn't know what the Omega 13 device really is. He and Gwen show the historical documents before Sarris, who immediately understands the situation. He forces Nesmith to explain to Mathesar in simple words that a child can understand that they are not heroes, but only actors.
Sarris orders his guards that they are going to make the starship explode with everybody inside. However, Nesmith and Lazarus pretend to fight, and they use the distraction to throw their guardians to the space void. Gwen reminds Nesmith that neither of them can activate a neutron reactor. But Nesmith knows somebody who will know how to operate it. Brandon (Justin Long) is a nerdy geek who asked a great deal of technical questions during one of the gigs. Gwen and Nesmith follow Brandon and his friend Kyle's (Jeremy Howard) instructions. When asked what the Omega 13 device may do, Brandon says they think that it may allow to go back in time in 13 seconds. Hollister (Jonathan Feyer) discovers the rhythm of the smashing iron poles.
Lazarus and Quellek (Patrick Breen) open the door to bring oxygen to the Thermians. Laliari and Fred kiss like crazy. Finally, Nesmith reaches the blue button which will stop the explosion. Brandon can't help Nesmith and give him an alternate solution when the blue button doesn't stop the countdown because his mother (Heidi Swedberg) forces him to take out the rubbish. Nesmith and Gwen embrace, listening to the last seconds of the countdown. However, on the series, the countdown always used to stop a second before, and that's what happens.
Nesmith orders Tommy to drive the Protector into the minefield. There, the magnetism of the ship attracts many mines. The Protector faces Sarris' flagship, and goes down in the last second. The mines destroy Sarris' flagship. However, after going through a black hole, Alexander mentions an increase of energy from Sarris' flagship. Sarris has entered the Protector. Disguised as Fred, he wounds Nesmith and shoots the rest of the crew in an ambush. Nesmith shouts to Mathesar to activate the Omega 13 device, so he arrives back in time - only 13 seconds, but enough time to stop Sarris as soon as he enters the control room.
Most of the Thermians leave the Protector, except for Laliari. They arrive at the sci-fi convention they were supposed to attend - where thousands of geek fans are already disappointed they are not there - crash-landing with their spaceship thanks to Brandon and his friends. In the convention, each cast member leaves the ship half-suffocated and dizzy. Sarris also wakes up, but he is killed in a second, something which drives the fans wild. Forward to the new season of Galaxy Quest - the cast includes a character called Laliari, performed by Jane Doe and who kisses Fred, and a new security lieutenant, performed by the extra actor Guy Fleegman.