Galaxy Quest (1999)

*. Like any successful franchise, Star Trek quickly spawned a cottage industry of parodies that never let up. The only comparison I can think of is to the wave of spy spoofs that followed in the wake of Bondmania and which have never gone out of style.
*. I’m not just talking about movie take-offs. The Star Trek formula has been parodied most recently by such popular SF authors as John Scalzi in Redshirts and Steven Erikson in Willful Child. Because Star Trek, like Bond, never went away the send-ups could continue, mining the same nostalgic ore year-in and year-out.
*. In the case of Star Trek there was also the phenomenon of its fandom, the conventioneering covered in such films as Trekkies and Free Enterprise (Fanboys would do the same for Star Wars fans). Trekkiedom is a cult, but a good-natured one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They constitute the sort of crowd expected to get all the jokes in a movie like Galaxy Quest, and laugh.
*. Galaxy Quest is very much a movie in this same spirit of spoof, sending up both Star Trek and its fans in a way that generously affirms the spirit of both. This even lets it get away with the shameless trick at the end of the crowd at the convention standing to applaud the cast, sending everyone home happy.
*. Star Trek is also like Bond in that the formula is so well known even outside of the fan base that you don’t have to be steeped in what’s being sent up to get the joke. When Gwen (Sigourney Weaver) rants about having to repeat all the captain’s instructions to the computer, or at the giant pistons they have to navigate without being crushed, it’s funny regardless of how well you know the original show.
*. I don’t think there’s anything special about the script here. It’s basically Three Amigos! in space. But the cast is impeccable, with Tim Allen as the captain (or commander), Weaver as his sexy lieutenant, Alan Rickman as a very jaded Spock, Tony Shalhoub as the easy-going engineer, Daryl Mitchell as the Wil Wheatonesque wunderkind who’s grown up, and Sam Rockwell as the redshirt. Together they go through the usual stages of a Star Trek plot, beaming down to a deceptively innocent-looking planet and saving some peace-loving aliens from the Klingons, with the help of a time-reversing device that would later be adopted, out of sheer laziness, by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And then everyone cheers.
*. So it’s good-natured, and given what it’s sending up doesn’t suffer for its small-screen feel. An aware film that never goes full meta. One for the fans who were, in turn, so appreciative that there have since been many calls for a sequel. I don’t know if that’s necessary though, given how thoroughly they blew everything up here. Not to mention the fact that the basic premise wouldn’t work a second time around. In any event, it’s a genre that, along with its parody versions, has basically become a self-replicating loop. And, of course, there are always reruns.

38 thoughts on “Galaxy Quest (1999)

  1. fragglerocking

    I was never a trekkie per se, but was quite addicted to the original WIlliam Shatner series then The Next Generation and Voyager. Deep Space 9 was OK when they were not available. But I kind of grew out of it all at some point, so know nothing about the movies and the spin-off parodies. I think I’ll leave it that way.

    1. Alex Good

      I grew up watching the original series but never got into any of the later instalments in the franchise. All the parodies are comforting nostalgia I think for most people like me. I certainly never went full Trekkie. I knew someone who had a Star Trek wedding, which struck me as taking things a bit too far.

    1. Alex Good

      I don’t recall seeing any reviews of this recently. Has anyone else been talking about it? Where? Must have been one of those way, way under-the-radar blogs.

      1. Alex Good Post author

        More projection! You’re the one who keeps peddling this false narrative. Oh well, you’ll probably be on about it again tomorrow. In fact, I’m sure of it . . .

      2. Alex Good Post author

        *sigh* Of course I will be ripping off nothing. I’m just calling your outrage in advance. And I’m sure I’ll be right, because I always am.

      3. Alex Good Post author

        My prediction: Tomorrow I’ll post a totally new review of some movie you’ve never seen and you’ll instantly whomp up one of your Deep Fake web pages saying you’d already done it. Just like your Galaxy Quest “review.”

      4. tensecondsfromnow

        Sigh. I think you’ll find Bookstodge and Fraggle commented on my Galaxy Quest review at the time, you’re only tying yourself in knots with your pathetic attempt at deception. And I notice you ripped off terms like “Sigourney Weaver’ and ‘Alan Rickman’, both steals from my review! So obvious!

      5. Alex Good Post author

        It’s right there a couple of comments back. You’re looking for the perfect Yorkshire pudding. Then you said you were going to send Fraggle the recipe and apparently you never did.

      6. fragglerocking

        No need, my Mum was a Yorkshire lady, pudding recipe passed down through the generations, I have the knowledge. Far beyond the capabilities of a Scottish pudding maker. But, we don’t do Haggis, Cumberland sausage or Cornish pasties so it’s all fair.

      7. fragglerocking

        No it isn’t. The northern hemisphere is mostly asleep, and the southern one is starving or surfing or fighting. I made a spelling error, corrected it and moved on. I’m off to peepies now, and so should you be. oidhche mhath!

  2. Bookstooge

    I love this movie. I’m not a trekkie (I always like Star Wars) but this called to the inner nerd of every real nerd :-D, not matter the franchise.

    And Rickman was fantastic!

    1. Alex Good

      He is great, and the thing is I don’t think he was an obvious choice at all for the part. At least I wouldn’t have thought of him. But then the character he’s playing is a Shakespearean actor who’s depressed about playing Spock so it ends up fitting perfectly.


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