In 1999, Galaxy Quest hit the screens. That feels like ages ago for a film that I still consider the best sci-fi comedy (just like Space Balls). The perfect mix of humor and science fiction, the impeccable cast, and flawless execution – everything in this movie is simply just right. You don’t even have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy it as a very funny film.
“What if…?” is the question that every good science fiction story starts with. What if a group of actors is mistaken for their roles in a popular science fiction series? It happens, you know – sometimes fans can’t distinguish between the actor and the character they play. But actors can also grow tired of their roles in a TV series and bitch about how their Great Important Work is overlooked.
Galaxy Quest was a TV series in this film, much like Star Trek, featuring a crew of a massive spaceship that embarks on adventures and saves entire planets. In this case, fans – who believe the actors are the real heroes (spoiler!) – are actually extraterrestrial beings from another planet. These beings hope that the crew can save their planet from the wicked General Sarris, and so they ask the Captain for help.
By Grabthar’s Hammer…
The Captain is an actor who never really landed a big role after the TV series. But he loves attending fan conventions and chatting with fans. He assumes the aliens are just fans looking to make a fan production. But he soon finds himself aboard a real spaceship, far, far away from Earth. Now, he must step into the shoes of the heroic, but fictional, Captain.
The other main cast members aren’t as thrilled with their roles in the series. The only woman in the crew just repeats what the computer says. She’s played by Sigourney Weaver, who, of course, had a very different role in Alien. Then there’s Dr. Lazarus, feeling like a failure because this role earned him his biggest fanbase and might have cost him significant theater productions. Alan Rickman portrays Lazarus so funny as a grumpy man. They all find the Captain quite unpleasant, clinging to the past.
Based on Star Trek
Star Trek fans will recognize elements inspired by their beloved science fiction series. The Captain, both the actor and the role, appears to be based on Captain Kirk (William Shatner). Even the plots of Galaxy Quest episodes described in the movie seem straight out of Star Trek. However, it’s done with affection. The series and the fans aren’t really put down. You can have a good laugh, but as a fan, you don’t have to worry about being portrayed as an oddball.
Yet, you don’t have to be a Trekkie or a sci-fi nerd to find the film funny. The concept of people being enlisted by aliens to help them, even though they are not the heroes they are believed to be, is just amusing. The way the characters react like ordinary people makes it relatable. And with Weaver, Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Missy Pyle, and Tim Allen, it’s a dream cast to savor.