STARRING: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Robin Sachs

1999, 102 Minutes, Directed by: Dean Parisot

Description: Commander Taggart (Tim Allen) and the stalwart crew of the NSEA Protector, whose intergalactic exploits on TV have now been reduced to a dreary cycle of fan conventions and promotional appearances. That's when the Thermians arrive, begging to be saved from Sarris, the reptilian villain who threatens to destroy their home planet. Can actors rise to the challenge and play their roles for real?

First of all, Galaxy Quest is not a bad movie. It's very funny at times, sports an excellent cast, and is often very entertaining. However, the writer made a tragic mistake somewhere along the line. As a result, instead of being the excellent movie that it could have been, Galaxy Quest ended up being reasonably good instead. 

The movie centers on a group of television stars whose show, Galaxy Quest, has a huge following. The show ended long ago, but the fans keep it alive, attending conventions, buying merchandise, obsessing over trivialities, et cetera. Yes, just like Star Trek, which is obviously what the movie is spoofing. The spoof is good, evidence that the writer knows his Star Trek. For example, William Shatner is disliked by much of Star Trek's cast, and this situation is mirrored nicely by Galaxy Quest. Note, though, that this type of exact mirroring is not used heavily. Galaxy Quest is actually quite a loose parody of Star Trek, adhering closely enough to be a spoof, but diverging enough to stand on its own. 

"Funny with a very entertaining cast . . ."

And so the story moves forward, propelling these actors into the midst of a conflict between a typically evil bad guy, and a typically friendly group of good guys which the bad guy is intent on destroying. And through the first two thirds of Galaxy Quest, the movie takes itself seriously for all of about thirty seconds. Reality contorts and adjusts as is necessary to suit the plot. And that's fine, given that the movie is a comedy. Some genuinely entertaining scenes ensue, carried by the terrific comedic skill of the movie's cast. Unfortunately, even at its best, Galaxy Quest feels like it may have been toned down and simplified for the sake of the younger members of the audience. 

Eventually, the big problem begins. It stems from the fact that the writer chose to make the movie more serious than it should have been. Instead of sticking with fast-paced light humor, the movie takes an unbefitting turn. For example, the leader of the friendly aliens is tortured and ends up with a blistered face! Now, I am not one who normally complains about violence in movies. I like violence in movies, especially over-the-top gory ultraviolence -- but only when it's in the appropriate context. In Galaxy Quest, the violence and accompanying serious tone feel decidedly out of place. The purely humorous nature of the movie is abruptly and uncomfortably interrupted so that a Home Improvement-style morality lesson can be inserted like a jagged, razor sharp suppository. 

Yes, just like that last phrase, the one about the suppository, the unhappy parts of Galaxy Quest should probably have been left out. If the writer had taken better advantage of the material he was spoofing, and the fact that the limitations of reality could safely be ignored for the sake of humor, and if he had concentrated on making the movie funny instead of attempting to make the movie more of a typical family film, Galaxy Quest would have turned out better. 

So, Galaxy Quest is a reasonably good movie. It's funny, clever at times, and has a very entertaining cast. Unfortunately, the material was not taken as far as it could have been, and so the film ends up being more than a little disappointing.  

- Lawrence Ryan


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