Friday, September 27, 2013

Classic Film Review: Galaxy Quest

My local theater does these screenings of older movies called "Insomnia Theater" and a few weeks ago they were showing Galaxy Quest.

I missed Galaxy Quest the first time it was in theaters, and I can't even remember why. I just don't think I thought it was going to be all that funny, it didn't come out in a time where parody movies were doing all that well. Let's be honest in generally they're pretty terrible unless Mel Brooks is involved.

This was definitely my mistake, and when I was finally convinced to watch it (and I can't remember by who or how), and I found out instantly how wrong I was. This movie isn't just funny, it's brilliant. It works on multiple levels, and it's smart in ways that even now most movies don't even attempt.

On it's surface, it's simple. The washed up actors who appeared on a short lived but cult favorite tv show are mistaken for real spaceship commanders and brought into space to save an alien race. Even that's been done before, but usually with something that becomes much more serious. But Galaxy Quest keeps up it's level of humor and intelligence at every moment.

It's no surprise that these actors are fantastic, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub, and Alan Rickman are some of the best actors in the country and so of course they're fantastic. Tim Allen has some hits and misses, but he's perfectly at home here and does what he does best.

Of course this is an almost direct parody of Star Trek and it's fans, and a lot of people (Patrick Stewart himself included) have worried that it was at the expense of those fans. It isn't, at all. One of the hardest things to accomplish in parody is being a loving tribute as well as poking fun at tropes and cliches. Galaxy Quest is one of the best examples of how to do this well. Which is probably why many Star Trek fans talk about it being the best Star Trek movie, because it's the one that comes from the same place they do, and it represents not just the world of Star Trek but also the world AROUND Star Trek. And it clearly understands the universe better than certain other recent writer and director teams I could name.

In general, if you like science fiction or Star Trek on any level, you should have seen Galaxy Quest by now. But you also should check it out if you like humor, or if you want to have some fun with the behind-the-scenes world of movies and television. It's a lot of things for a lot of people, and it does all of them well.