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Galaxy Quest

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Galaxy Quest

Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver
Director: Dean Parisot
Rated: PG
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Tony Shalhoub, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Sam Rockwell, J.P. Manoux, Alan Rickman

Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

Is there an easier target in all of contemporary pop culture than _Star_Trek_? The hambone acting, the cheesy sets, the ridiculously convoluted scientific jargon, and--the pièce de résistance--the stereotypically geeky, obsessive fan following--what is there not to poke good-natured fun at? So the makers of the thinly-veiled _Trek_ spoof _Galaxy_Quest_ have it fairly easy; the set-up is all there, and all that's needed is the follow-through. Happily, unlike a number of recent cinematic send-ups, _Galaxy_ doesn't drop the ball.

A big help is that writers David Howard and Robert Gordon have come up with a clever story on which to hang the _Trek_ gags. The film takes its title from a _Trek_-like sci-fi TV series whose cult following is stronger than ever well over a decade after cancellation. And, like the original _Trek_ cast, the only work the _Quest_ crew seems to get these days are appearances at conventions. But the role of their lives comes when a group of space aliens called Thermians, having seen all of the _Quest_ episodes and believing them to be actual spacefaring adventurers, enlists the crew's aid in combating an evil monster.

This framework gives director Dean Parisot ample room to stage some effects-heavy action sequences. The younger members in the audience will especially enjoy these sequences, such as some elaborate space chases and an encounter with a rock monster. This is not to say that adults won't find enjoyment from these sections as well, for all the effects work in the film is first-rate.

What will appeal to the older set even more, however, is the smart, edgy humor, which begins with the characters. Tim Allen plays the pompous Shatner-esque Jason Nesmith, who played Peter Quincy Taggart, the commander of _Quest_'s central spaceship, the Protector. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is eager to shake the stigma of being the show's token cheesecake, Lt. Tawny Madison, the "communications expert" whose only job was to repeat everything the computer said. Alexander Dane's (Alan Rickman) years of cutting his acting teeth on the Shakespearean stage went down the drain once he was typecast in his _Quest_ role, half-alien Dr. Lazarus. The other crew members for this mission are Tech Sgt. Chen, played by the non-Asian Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub); Laredo, the Protector's 10-year-old navigator, played by the now-adult Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell); and Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell), a rabid _Quest_ fan who once had a bit part in the show as a nondescript officer.

As anyone with a passing familiarity with _Star_Trek_--and thus the world of _Galaxy_Quest_--would know, the nondescript officer is always the first to go, and thus Guy fears for his life while in space. Clichés such as these are gleefully satirized throughout the film, such as touchstone mantras (not surprisingly, Alexander is sick of reciting his) and defused bombs whose countdown timers stop only at the one-second mark. Not escaping the aim of the writers are those fanatical fans who know every last technical detail of the show. Of course, the real test of the jokes is if they are playable to a _Trek_-oblivious viewer, and no one needs to have any familiarity in that area to get them (though it certainly helps).

As is the case with all family-friendly comedies, _Galaxy_Quest_ isn't above some straightfaced would-be tear-wringing moments, but the forays into cheap sentimentality are easily forgiven when everyone involved in the production is of such high spirit and intelligence. When I say that _Galaxy_Quest_ is a fun time for the entire family, I mean it; it's clean, has all the requisite eye candy and slapstick for the younger set, and--most distinguishing of all--an uncommon level of sophistication for the adults.

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