By: Zane Brumley
To answer simply: yes, more so now than ever before. Galaxy Quest is an enduring Star Trek parody that examines fan culture as well as many ridiculous science fiction tropes. Director Dean Parisot’s 1999 Trekkie love-letter is a brilliant film that holds just as much relevancy today, if not more so today as it did 20 years ago. The comedic adventure film stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman as washed-up actors that attend sci-fi conventions after their show, also titled Galaxy Quest, ended 18 years earlier. They are suddenly thrust into their fictional world by an alien species that mistook the Galaxy Quest show as a documentary series. The 1990s were a big time for science fiction fans: there were two Star Trek TV series and a movie series in production, as well as many other smaller space operas. Galaxy Quest sought to capitalize on the cultural significance of these space franchises, Star Trek in particular. The early 2000s saw the franchises dry up and fans being left with little content. It has been only recently that there has been a resurgence in science fiction set in space. There is a new Star Trek series with another one on the way, there’s The Orville, a parody show in the same vein of Galaxy Quest, and comedic space franchises are massive box office hits now with the Guardians of the Galaxy and other big films. To top off everything, Amazon has been set to produce a continuation of the Galaxy Quest franchise in a TV show which should operate a sort of soft reboot that is set in modern day and features a blend of old and new characters as they
have a similar adventure.
So why is Galaxy Quest so fun? The film depicts its lead character, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), as a man that craves attention and eats it up at every convention. The other cast members resent his attitude. A group of aliens approach a hungover Nesmith and convince him to join them the next morning. This leads to a hilarious moment where he basically starts a conflict with an alien warlord, Sarris, because he thinks he’s on a fan replica of the NSEA Protector, the starship from the show. Nesmith is returned home, and he is astonished and wishes to relate his adventure to his former cast-mates. The aliens return asking for additional help from the entire castand they all agree. Each character is absolutely floored by the recreation of their sets. The aliens built the Protector, but they are unsure how to operate it. The cast of Galaxy Quest must take command of the ship to defend their fans/alien friends. The film has a heartwarming conclusion where the fans on Earth must work together with the cast by launching fireworks to mark a safe spot to land their crashing ship. This makes an interesting shift where the heroes to the fans are saved, making the fans themselves heroes.
The film features many comedic moments that poke fun at science fiction tropes as well as depicting a fish-out-of-water element of the actors being thrown into a real-world crisis. The characters are attacked by little blue aliens, a rock monster; there’s a transporter accident, and it even has a random time travel plot device from the TV show. Jason Nesmith is thrown into many “Captain Kirk-like” scenarios like battling a rock monster and getting his shirt torn. Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) criticizes her show character and how pointless she is beyond being eye-candy only to fall into that exact role during the film. This leads her to be more daring and go through a ridiculous and dangerous scene through the ship with Nesmith. Alexander Dane
(Alan Rickman) who played the extremely popular Dr. Lazarus, a Spock-like character, struggles with the idea that he’s no longer a serious actor. The film makes him truly appreciate his character and what it means to his fans.
Galaxy Quest has aged well for being a late-90s film. The scenes involving this Protector are beautiful and echo the production quality of the Star Trek-type movies of the era. The film’s score by David Newman has a heroic theme that’s bouncy and memorable. The creatures and aliens designed for the film are well done, looking just the right amount of hokey to be entertaining and genuine while maintaining the self-aware nature of the movie.
Galaxy Quest is a delightful homage to Star Trek and science fiction which continues to stand the test of time in relevancy. The movie is a real hoot, from 90s action to hilarious moments of awkwardness. This film, although it’s unnecessary, would welcome a sequel in some form. Star Wars may have Spaceballs, but Star Trek has Galaxy Quest.