In honour of Alan Rickman, I decided to venture to the final frontier of his filmography I have not yet seen. Cue Galaxy Quest, arguably the legendary actor’s only main comedic role. And I did not regret my choice. Quest is a smart, affectionate parody of all things Star Trek and while it still reeks with 90s cheese its still far better and funnier than it ought to be.
Galaxy Quest (1999) is directed by Dean Parisot and stars Tim Allen, Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver as washed up actors of the Trek parody show Galaxy Quest who are recruited by real aliens to stop their species being wiped out. If that premise doesn’t at the very least intrigue you, read it again. Imagine a comedic episode of the original Star Trek where every character knew they were an actor and that’s pretty much Galaxy Quest. Its ridiculous, meta, inventive, cheesy and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It does have that dopey 90s sheen with plot points that make little sense or are really grating, but thats almost a benefit to the movie’s charm rather than a deficit. It also (ugh, it feels dopey just to say this) surprisingly has a lot of heart at times. While the focus is still on the good ol’ chuckles, there are several moments that feel dramatic and earnest. I never thought I’d say that about a Star Trek parody starring Tim Allen. This movie is way better than it has a right to be.
The main cast is also surprisingly impressive considering the cheesy premise. Each actor is a satire of a typical stereotype which leads to plenty of humour and clever character moments. You have sci-fi royalty in Sigourney Weaver, who plays the sex appeal of the original show and constantly has self-aware moments of ‘I don’t actually do anything’ even when the film sneakily uses her as sex appeal itself. The aforementioned Alan Rickman plays the Leonard Nimoy character, a man dragged down from the stage by the show, and not only does he bring a legitimacy to the campy film, its quite possibly the actor’s only comedic role and does an impressive job breathing deadpan humour into his performance. A special mention goes to Sam Rockwell who struggles with the idea that he’s an expendable ‘red shirt’, an idea which is just ridiculously funny and steals several scenes (which considering his character’s role is even funnier). Another standout joke was surprisingly the aliens that recruit the cast. Initially I thought it was going to be the typical flat comic relief characters but they’re balanced well enough with real emotion that they stay consistently hilarious through the entire movie. You could probably guess from the cast list which actor is the weakest link. Yes, Tim Allen. He’s not as bland as he normally is and gets in a few good jokes but compared to the rest of his cast, his arch isn’t particularly interesting and doesn’t go anywhere significant. Please just stay in your reserved childhood location (Buzz Lightyear) thanks Tim.
Galaxy Quest is a comedy that pays respect and pokes fun at the original Star Trek in equal measures. Its clever, meta, funny, boasts a strong cast and even manipulates the feels at times. Its still a 90s movie starring Tim Allen, but is much better than it should be and well worth a look by any Trek fans or even anyone looking for a solid, inventive comedy.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
True Believers (Trekkers): Highly Recommended