Hands up – who has never enjoyed an episode of Star Trek? Not many, I’ll bet. Those of you who are less than seven years old or have not owned a TV set since the early 1950s may want to go to another of our reviews for entertainment.
Galaxy Quest is Star Trek with more obvious costumes and sets (if that were possible) a very affectionate spoof of the series, its sometimes-fanatical fans and cast. There are even two monikers that refer to the show’s fans – Questies and Questrians – mirroring real life and the ongoing debate as to whether true fans are Trekkies or Trekkers.
Onto the film itself. The plot is fairly straightforward, with the stars of a cancelled sci-fi series Galaxy Quest being obliged to attend Quest conventions and store openings, dredging the last from the light of fame. None of them enjoy it except for Captain Peter Taggart (Tim Allen) who steals all the limelight and loves to bask in the adoration of his fans. The one who hates it the most is Dr Lazarus (a fine turn from Alan Rickman) – a former Shakespearian actor now reduced to toeing the corporate line for cash. At the opening of an electrical superstore, for example , he delivers his ‘famous’ line “By Grabthar’s hammer, what a savings” with unbridled spite and disdain. The other two stars, Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver, pushing the sexyometer up to 11) and Fred Kwan (Tony Shaloub) complete Taggart’s long-suffering entourage.
While attending a convention, Captain Taggart is approached by a strange set of fans dressed in shiny black suits and sporting the worst haircuts seen outside a prison. They beg him to help them, as their race is in danger of being destroyed by the evil Sarris (Robin Sachs). Taggart quickly dismisses them as over-eager fans and proceeds to get very drunk after the gig. He wakes to find the fans have tracked him down to his home and are, in fact, serious.
The Thermians – as it transpires they are – have been monitoring the series from outer space and believe the Captain and his crew are their best hope of defeating Sarris and saving their race. To this end, they have recreated their starship, the NSEA Protector, from the “historical documents” they have seen.
The film moves at a somewhat uneven pace a times, but this is more than compensated for by the plethora of in-jokes and unashamed sending-up of Star Trek and other sci-fi classics. My particular favourite is Sigourney Weaver’s line: “Ducts, why is it always ducts?” in a nod to her character Ripley’s experiences in the four Alien films.
Overall, I have to say that I have not seen a film in a long time that has had me smiling from start to finish. It seems in serious danger of slipping into mawkishness around two thirds of the way in, but is pulled back from the brink before it becomes too much. Strangely enough, it felt sometimes as if I were watching an episode of Star Trek. As a fan of Trek and Quest alike, I’d say that was a good thing.