BY AMBER KELLY-ANDERSON
What it’s about: The cast of a canceled sci-fi cult classic are doomed to careers of fan conventions and car lot openings, squabbling amongst themselves and clinging to past glories. That is until a race of aliens on the brink of extinction, believing television to be Earth’s historical documents (those poor people on Gilligan’s Island), wrangle the group to live the Galaxy Quest adventure for real.
Who’s in it: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell and Daryl Mitchell.
When it came out: 1999
How come you haven’t heart of (or just seen) it: Galaxy Quest is one of those movies that you might have flipped past on cable some Sunday afternoon. Even if you have seen it, you’ve probably forgotten how hilarious and smart it is. It’s also one of those movies that when it comes up in conversation at a party, ten people will start quoting.
Why you need to watch it immediately: Star Trek spoofs are nothing novel — there are more of them than actual Trek episodes (including all the subsequent series). What sets Galaxy Quest apart is the wit of its premise and the savviness of its casting (watching Galaxy Quest is akin to playing “Spot the Future Breakout” — Justin Long, Corbin Bleu, Missi Pyle, and Rainn Wilson all turn up).
Both Allen and Shalhoub (pre-Monk and post-Wings) were working primarily in television at the time and knew the ins and outs of playing the same characters week after week. Weaver is sci-fi icon who certainly must have dealt with the level of fans the genre inspires. Rickman, although not yet Snape, basks in mocking the trend of classically trained British actors turning up in sci-fi.
Allen is someone to whom I loosely apply the term actor. However, Galaxy Quest is his best performance. Channeling elements of Shatner, he also incorporates bits of his most beloved creation, Buzz Lightyear. He’s funny, charming and smug in a way that works. His chemistry with Weaver is easy without being forced.
Also, Gwen DeMarco (Weaver) might be one of my favorite movie characters. She represents not just what it means to be a woman in the world of fanboys (unzipped jumpsuit much?), but how to function within the male world while maintaining your identity. Weaver’s Gwen is smart and just a little silly. My favorite line belongs to her: “Look! I have one job on this lousy ship. It’s stupid, but I’m gonna do it! Okay?”
If you are a Trek fan like my husband, the jokes are spot on — technical fan debates on imaginary specs, red shirts, countdowns that stop at one. If you aren’t a Trekkie, it’s still funny and actually a good introduction to that world. The comedy is never mean-spirited, honouring the show and fans while inviting the audience to laugh along with, instead of at, sci-fi and cult television.