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USA 1999
Directed by
Dean Parisot
102 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Jules L.
3 stars

Galaxy Quest

Synopsis: A group of actors from Galaxy Quest, a popular sci-fi TV series of the 70s, are approached by actual peace-loving aliens known as Thermians with a mission: to save them from death and utter annihilation by a rival alien clan.

Galaxy Quest parodies science-fiction television shows like Star Trek and Babylon 5. Not being a huge fan of such fare myself, yet well-versed enough in hi-tech sci-fi jargon and armed with an adequate familiarity with the characters who inhabit these futuristic cardboard sets, I was looking forward to the affable ridicule of those sci-fi soapies with gleeful anticipation. Galaxy Quest did not simplyprovide such self-indulgent pleasure. There were moments where one does howl with laughter at the clichés of sci-fi TV shows embodied by the fictitious Galaxy Quest series, such as the cheesy characterisation, melodramatic plots and overtly tacky sets, but by and large, the humour worked best when turning those clichés into clever conceits. By not merely aping the already naff qualities of TV science-fiction, Galaxy Quest stimulates some interesting questions about truth and falsehood and whether life can imitate art and manages at the same time to be consistently entertaining.

The film delves into the petty rivalries and dysfunctionality of the acting team who play the wholesome, altruistic and unfailingly good characters on the show. In real life, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who plays the ship's captain, is egotistical and self-aggrandising. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), who plays the second-in-command, suffers from severe lack of self-esteem and bitterness, having once been a lauded stage actor and now consigned to repeating his trademark phrase to expectant fans. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), is only appreciated for her looks, not her talent. The other 'crew' members too, suffer from an array of personal shortcomings. What motivates them all to keep up appearances as a team at annual conventions are perhaps the lack of other options and the enjoyment of minor celebrity amongst their die-hard fans. All quite depressing stuff really, until the Thermians enter the scene.

These alien people are so innocent of human ways that they do not understand the concept of not speaking the truth, or even acting. The pale-faced, ever-smiling Thermians believe the TV episodes of Galaxy Quest to be historic records of authentic space travel and present the small-time actors with an opportunity to live out what they have been playing on TV, expecting the fictitious crew to save them from the very real threat of extermination. With the lives of an entire race on their hands, the crew of "Galaxy Quest" redeem themselves, ironically through acceptance of the roles they play on-screen. In a farce which does not end up being a farce, the film genially celebrates the codes of valour, loyalty and courage so easily dismissed as cheesy or corny in today's world.




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