Underrated Classic: “Galaxy Quest”

“Galaxy Quest” was first conceived as a science-fiction film called “Captain Starshine” back in 1997. (Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures)

Owen Johnson 
Connector Staff

In the 1990s, after the outpour of parody films by people like Mel Brooks and the Zucker brothers had either come to an end or deteriorated in quality, “Galaxy Quest” came about to resuscitate the dying genre for one last enjoyable film.

Years after being on a successful science fiction television show called “Galaxy Quest,” the washed up actors of the once popular “Star Trek”-esque show are recruited by an alien species, mistaking the show as a historical documentation, to help them defeat their ruthless adversary Sarris (Robin Sachs).

The largest component of “Galaxy Quest” is the parodical nature that pokes fun at the “Star Trek” franchise. For one thing, the cast of characters is very much a representation of the original “Star Trek” cast. The commander (Tim Allen) is brash womanizer like Captain Kirk. There is a fan favorite alien science officer (Alan Rickman), who is a mixture of Spock and McCoy whose reactions fluctuate between stoic and annoyed. There is even a background cast member (Sam Rockwell) who acts as a self-aware red shirt who is constantly fearing that he is expendable and will die at any point. The movie also makes references to some of the iconic scenes of “Star Trek,” such as having the captain fight a monster on a desert planet, and the aliens the actors are recruited to help look exactly like humans, which a lot of alien races in the “Star Trek” show looked like.

“Galaxy Quest” serves as not just a satirical representation of the “Star Trek” franchise, but also of the exterior workings of the original “Star Trek” show, and nerd culture. Allen’s character is a clear representation of William Shatner, and the other cast members’ disdain for him mirrors attitudes felt towards Shatner by his costars. Nerd culture is satirized by a geek (Justin Long) whose zealous attitude towards the “Galaxy Quest” television show ends up helping the actors.

One of the most underrated components of the film is the cast itself. Allen is perfectly cast in his role as a washed up actor who takes himself too seriously and is completely oblivious to people’s disdain for him. Rickman does a wonderful job portraying a miserable and sarcastic actor who is clearly not doing what he really wants to do. Along with the aforementioned actors, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub and Daryl Mitchell all do great jobs in their roles.

Whereas a number of parody movies have a loose plot line to allow for comedic situations and spoofing to take place, “Galaxy Quest” transcends with these. The plot is concise and well-structured so that everything, even in subtle details, are set up ahead of time. For example, Tony Shalhoub just seems uninterested in everything that is happening, even when the ship is taking damage. At first this seems off until it is established that Shalhoub’s character had stopped trying as an actor and just did not seem to care about much anymore.

“Galaxy Quest” is a well-written parody with a lot of creative and clever ideas to it, making it one of the better parody movies.

Final Grade: A+

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