Galaxy Quest

Directed by Dean Parisot
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action violence, mild language and sensuality.

Review by Matt Heffernan
December 28, 1999

This holiday season, Toy Story 2 has been the big winner at the box office. Tom Hanks followed up his voice-over work with a live action film (The Green Mile) that was also a hit, but not of the same scale. The other star of the animated feature, Tim Allen, is now looking for the same one-two combination.

In Galaxy Quest, he stars as Jason Nesmith, an actor who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggart on a science fiction TV show, also called "Galaxy Quest". Since the show's cancellation in the early 1980's, he and his former co-stars make regular appearances at conventions and other events. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) played Lt. Tawny Madison, who did nothing but relay messages between the ship's computer and the Commander. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) was once a respected actor, until he was cast as the alien crewmember Dr. Lazarus, and subsequently haunted by his tired catchphrases. These shows are now the only work that these typecast performers can get.

At one convention, some strange people dressed in uniforms from the show request Jason's presence on their ship. Figuring that they are just obsessed fans, he goes along with them, and finds himself aboard a real spaceship. The fans are actually aliens who think that the episodes of "Galaxy Quest" were historical documents. After one mission in space, Jason returns to Earth, and brings the other castmembers back to the ship, where they help the aliens defend their civilization from a hostile race of lobster-like beings.

I must admit that it is a pretty funny concept: pathetic, has-been actors confused for heroic space-soldiers. That is used to effect some funny scenes, but a comedy needs more than one joke. Indeed, the humor wears thin and their predicament turns into a strategy for victory. So instead of an intelligent satire, the film becomes a typical fish-out-of-water adventure. It even has the nerve to take itself seriously at times. The last thing people should buy a movie ticket for is a feature-length sappy sitcom.

However, if that's the sort of thing you enjoy, then you should feel right at home. Most of the actors are from sitcoms, and even director Dean Parisot has dabbled in the genre, which could explain the overall tone of the film. Rickman helps add a little class to the proceedings, getting the only really good part in the film. Weaver is completely wasted, but she's never looked better. She actually looks younger than she did twenty years ago in Alien, not to mention a couple of possible enhancements.

Because of the holidays, this review is a little late, but at least I know how this film is doing at the box office. Apparently, people are still far more interested in Buzz Lightyear than the man behind him.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Galaxy Quest (1999)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
Galaxy Quest (1999) -- VHS
Galaxy Quest (1999) -- DVD
Galaxy Quest, a screenplay novelization by Terry Bisson -- Paperback
Galaxy Quest, a youth novel by Ellen Weiss -- Paperback Home
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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan