So I watched Galaxy Quest…
I think the secret to a great parody lies in its intention. The best parodies don’t set out to ridicule but rather pay homage through playful mockery and teasing. They point out the flaws of the selected genre and – the truly great ones – end up becoming part of the material they initially parodied. Galaxy Quest is a great example of reaching that balance between making fun of something and showing your love for it.
Okay, basic plot: Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) is the former lead of a popular TV series called Galaxy Quest which detailed the adventures of the crew of the NSEA Protector. The show has been cancelled and Nesmith – along with his former cast-mates – now make a living off appearing at fan conventions and promotional events. One day the cast is abducted by a group of aliens called Thermians who believe that the TV show was fact and request the help of the crew of the NSEA Protector to help in settling a dispute between them and an evil warlord named Sarris. The cast agree thinking it to be just another publicity event but are shocked to find out that not only isn’t this fiction but Sarris is a real threat to their lives. The cast must band together and go beyond acting and become an actual crew if they hope to survive.
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation – Saturdays at 6pm were Star Trek time. I wouldn’t call myself a Trekkie but I did have an appreciation and fondness for the series. Now Galaxy Quest is a parody and – as such – makes jokes about Star Trek and the culture of fandom that it inspired. However, these jokes weren’t malicious and this film actually ended up becoming a tribute to and reinforcing the material that it was making fun of. When I think of my favourite parodies – Austin Powers, anything that Leslie Nielson was in – they always had the ability to point out the plot holes and tropes of a particular genre while committing said tropes themselves. Galaxy Quest also functions so well because it doesn’t limit itself to only parodying the Sci-Fi space genre but also sets itself apart as a standalone addition to the genre.
The script is well crafted and screenwriters, Robort Gordon and David Howard definitely deserve praise. It’s funny but also has a great sincerity to it. It delivers on everything you’d want an entertaining parody to be but then goes a step further and becomes everything you’d want an entertaining Sci-Fi comedy to be. There’s also a great understanding and insight shown by the actors who bring the story’s characters to life.
Each character is essentially a caricature but – as with the story – characters aren’t merely there to mock the characters they’re based on but also be engaging and memorable characters in their own right. One of my favourite characters is that of Sam Rockwell. Rockwell stars as ‘Guy’ – an actor who only appeared in one episode of the TV show and like millions of Star Trek redshirts before him served as canon fodder. This is a recurrent joke in the movie with Guy constantly believing he’s doomed because he’s just an auxiliary character whose only function is to die. I loved this because the character feels underrated and Rockwell is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated actors working in Hollywood.
The entire cast is brilliant with the likes of Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Tony Shalhoub delivering entertaining, light-hearted performances that perfectly showcase the fun nature of the film.
Overall, Galaxy Quest is a real treat of a movie. It does what it sets out to do so brilliantly that it actually becomes more than just a simple parody. It’s worth watching whether you’re a fan of Sci-Fi or not.