In the late nineties, Tim Allen was pretty much at the top of his comedy game. The man was ending a long run on one of the most beloved family sitcoms of the nineties, he was known as the iconic Buzz Lightyear thanks to starring in one of the most revolutionary Disney films of all time, and he was appearing in anything he could get his hands on. One of the more adult related titles he starred in managed to be one of his highest grossing yet low key film to date that signaled an inevitable slump in his film career. But in spite of that descent in to becoming a third rate comedy star bouncing crotch shots off of a bloated brother of a comedy legend, “Galaxy Quest” is one of Allen’s most entertaining films, and continues to be a favorite of mine years subsequent its release in theaters. “Galaxy Quest” is a fantastic science fiction comedy, sure, but many years since its release, it’s managed to be a rotating title on my short list of absolute favorite films.
When all is said and done, Dean Parisot’s is pretty much an on the nose satire of William Shatner and his legacy with the “Star Trek” series but–wait–it also happens to be a rather entertaining spin on “Seven Samurai.” Ah, I surprised you there, didn’t I? Filled with genuine characterization and some tongue in cheek performances, Allen headlines a cast of all stars as Jason Nesmith, the once notable hero of the cult science fiction series “Galaxy Quest” who base their lives around muttering annoying one-liners from the show and indulging convention goers in endless diatribes about scientific inconsistencies of the show. Nesmith is a god in his own mind, who realizes he’s pretty much tired of the convention scene after being mocked by “fans” and is approached by a group of people who claim they’re aliens in need of his help. What follows is a rather raucous ensemble comedy where Allen holds his own against Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Sam Rockwell whom all discover they’ve been confused for actual warriors who fight aliens in space and are tasked with saving a dying alien race at the mercy of the war lord Sarris.
Director Parisot along with writer Howard manage to write some of the most clever dialogue while allowing the talented ensemble cast to do the work for their them, bouncing off some hysterical dead pan deliveries while forming a close bond to their alien hostages who display a sheer lack of emotions, but are clearly in dire need of help. While the “Star Trek” jabs are much too obvious, the film excels in telling one hell of an exciting story where Allen dives head first in this performance as Nesmith who discovers he has a purpose in the middle of the monotony as an actor and becomes a hero alongside his friend Alexander Dane played by Rickman, a Shakespearean actor who simply can not escape his image as a the emotionless Lazarus who is constantly forced to mutter his war cry: “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”
Most notable though about this film is the debut appearance by future film hipster Justin Long, who is extremely convincing and heartfelt as hardcore “Galaxy Quest” nerd Brandon that is yelled at by Allen’s character in the middle of a convention, but is called upon for help in the climax realizing the ultimate fantasy in every sci-fi fan’s mind: that everything he’s seen on the show is based in truth, and all of the useless knowledge he’s acquired is useful in helping the world. Long’s performance is shockingly engrossing and his turn as the stuttering awkward fan boy is one of the most memorable performances. There’s also Sam Rockwell as the glorified extra on the show struggling for a purpose, Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan who falls for one of the aliens, and Sigourney Weaver at her bustiest as Gwen DeMarco, Nesmith’s co-star who realizes her feelings for Jason as their fight continues on.
You also have to enjoy Rainn Wilson and Enricon Calontoni (any “Veronica Mars” fans in the house?) as the inept aliens fighting for their breed, along with Robin Sachs who is exceptionally hammy but nonetheless lethal as Lord Sarris who is so befuddled at the actor’s insistence on sticking to their destinies that he fights until the last breath only to be taken down in a most undignified dramatic manner. There are also some rather sharp one-liners delivered by none other than Rickman who takes great pains in acknowledging the sheer abundance of incredulity ensuing before his eyes while also indulging in becoming the valiant warrior he portrayed so begrudgingly in the series. Featuring fantastic special effects from Stan Winston studios, and some genuinely hilarious action pieces including their battle with a rock monster, and cringing at the true appearance of seemingly adorable alien natives, “Galaxy Quest” has become a permanent fixture in my all time favorites list.