We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
The first time I saw Galaxy Quest, I’d not quite finished my watch-through of every series and film of Star Trek. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’d only seen The Original Series at that point and maybe a little bit of The Next Generation. Even without that knowledge, I’m certain I’d have enjoyed Galaxy Quest all on its own as a brilliant lampoon of the science fiction genre, particularly as it pertains to science fiction television in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Did you catch Galaxy Quest when it originally premiered? Check out the trailer for Galaxy Quest and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
Galaxy Quest tells the story of the cast of a classic science fiction television show of the same name, with their acting careers in the proverbial toilet. The cast of Galaxy Quest is relegated to the con circuit and small commercial appearances to eke out a living after the end of their series. This group of jaded actors is especially jaded by their former “Captain”, Jason Nesmith whose ego and his fellow cast members’ loathing is apparently unrecognizable to him.
After overhearing a conversation in a convention bathroom, Jason learns that his friends can’t stand him and that his fans think him “pathetic.” (This scene is based on an actual experience William Shatner had at a 1986 Star Trek convention, according to IMDB).
The crew of Galaxy Quest accidentally stumbles into a real adventure when a group of actual aliens, the Thermians, thinking the show’s episodes are “historical documents”, recruit this troop of actors to stop a hostile takeover from a ruthless alien warlord, Sarris. Can the crew of the N. S. E. A. Protector save the day? You’ll have to watch to find out. Here are a few reasons I think Galaxy Quest is worth checking out.
Out of this World Cast
Even if you have no knowledge of the science fiction genre, Galaxy Quest is worth watching simply for the comedy. The casting directors definitely lined up a brilliant group of comedy and science fiction actors for this film. As Jason Nesmith, Tim Allen does a brilliant job of bringing the pompous, arrogant lead who needs to learn a lesson in humility to life, much like his character of Scott Calvin in The Santa Clause.
One of my favorite leading ladies to watch in any film, Sigourney Weaver, plays the busty and beautiful Gwen DeMarco, whose character highlights some of the problematic things that occurred in past Star Trek series.
Her character, like Lt. Uhura in The Original Series, repeats what the computer says, and as did Seven of Nine actress Jeri Ryan in Voyager, she literally had six paragraphs written about her boobs and how they fit in her suit in TV Guide. With Weaver’s experience in both science fiction (Alien) and science fiction comedy (Ghostbusters), there are several layers of awesome in casting her as Gwen.
Other comedy greats rounding out the cast are Tony Shalhoub (Monk, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Daryl Mitchell (10 Things I Hate About You), and the late, great Alan Rickman (Harry Potter) as Dr. Lazarus. Look also for some deep-cut appearances by other comedy and notable actors, Rainn Wilson, Missi Pyle, Joel McKinnon Miller, Justin Long, and Corbin Bleu! Even if you’re not a science fiction person, Galaxy Quest is worth watching simply to see some of your favorite actors in a different role.
Science Fiction Parody with a Point
I already mentioned a few of the things Galaxy Quest lampoons in regards to Star Trek, but it does it so brilliantly that it goes past simply being funny, and makes a point. Galaxy Quest highlights the way that science fiction actors are often unfairly typecast or not taken seriously after their science fiction roles end.
You have a Shakespearean actor like Alan Rickman’s Alexander Dane, who now seems to permanently have his alien headgear attached to his head, a metaphorical symbol of his status as an actor who can’t rise above his science fiction counterpart as Dr. Lazarus. It also highlights some of the struggles child actors face with Sam Rockwell’s character, Guy, and Daryl Mitchell’s, Tommy.
Galaxy Quest also highlights some of the ways that science fiction fans are often looked down upon for their fandom, be it by family members, the media, or even the actors they so admire. No spoilers, but the way the film redeems that idea is absolutely brilliant and warms my nerdy sci-fi loving heart. If you like your parody to have a point, Galaxy Quest is definitely worth checking out.
A Love Letter to Science Fiction Fans
Galaxy Quest was so well received, not just by science fiction fans, but in particular, Star Trek fans. According to IMDB, at the official 2013 Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, fans voted Galaxy Quest to be the 7th best Star Trek film out of the 12 films released at that time.
While Galaxy Quest does a great job poking fun at the franchise, it also highlights the things that fans love the most about Star Trek–hope and perseverance. Galaxy Quest’s tagline of “Never give up! Never surrender!” could just as easily be phrased in Captain Kirk’s words of “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.” This film is a love letter to science fiction fans, and for that reason, Galaxy Quest will always have a special place in my heart.
If you need a good laugh, want to blast off to the other side of the galaxy, or simply enjoy parody, add Galaxy Quest to your watch list. By Grabthar’s hammer, you’ll be glad you did.